Maritime News

UK union secures court victory on right to strike

4 March 2011

Docklands Light Railway, London, UK*
Docklands Light Railway: workers had planned strike action in January*

A UK transport union has secured a major victory in an appeal court over UK strike laws, paving the way for others to take action over cuts to jobs and services in the months ahead.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) appealed an injunction granted in the high court in January preventing a 48-hour strike on a London rail service, the Serco Docklands Light Railway. On 4 March, that injunction - which would have taken the anti-trade union laws in the UK close to an effective ban on the right to strike - was overturned in the court of appeal.

The court of appeal ruled unanimously that the union’s explanation of the figures involved in its balloting process was more than adequate. It also unanimously rejected Serco’s cross-appeal that the figures for union members were not sufficiently accurate.

The judgment has significant implications for ongoing disputes on other UK rail and urban networks, including Arriva Trains in Wales and London Underground, and clears a path for UK unions in all sectors planning ballots over jobs, pensions and living standard cuts.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said on 4 March: “This morning’s judgment is not only a victory for staff on Serco Docklands and RMT’s 80,000 members but it is also a massive victory for the seven million trade unionists in the UK.

“The Serco Docklands injunction on the balloting process would have taken the anti-union laws in this country to within a whisker of effectively banning the right to strike if it had been allowed to stand and would have tightened the noose around the necks of nurses, firefighters, ambulance crew, home helps and others engaged in fighting back to the point of strangulation. This victory today helps clear the path for those workers to take action.”

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