Southern Rail is attempting to stop train drivers from striking through an injunction.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), parent company of Southern Railway, has applied to the High Court for an injunction claiming the action breaches customers’ rights.
Train union Aslef said GTR is seeking ‘to prevent the voice of their put-upon employees being heard.’
The union is planning drivers’ strikes in December and January in a dispute over driver-only operated trains.
Charles Horton, chief executive at GTR, said: “We launch legal action reluctantly but now without any other choice. Obviously we would prefer to resolve this directly with ASLEF. We asked the union to withdraw the industrial action and to re-enter discussions but they refused to do so, which means that we now have no choice but to go to court.
“We have a responsibility to our customers to do all we can to protect their interests and maintain services for them.
“Passengers now face the prospect of 40 days of continuous industrial action by ASLEF, and, on top of months of travel misery they’ve already suffered, it is totally unacceptable.
“The proposed industrial action called by ASLEF is unjustified, unnecessary and we believe unlawful.
“It will severely disrupt all our customers, including the tens of thousands of customers a day who use our services for travelling to and from Gatwick Airport.
“We believe that the industrial action breaches our and our customers’ rights under EU law and so we are seeking an injunction to stop the industrial action.
“It’s perfectly safe for the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of a modern train, and that’s how a third of the trains up and down the country - with the full agreement and support of ASLEF - already operate today.”
The matter is likely to be considered by the High Court at a hearing in the coming days.
Earlier the RMT union, which is involved in a separate dispute, announced that it would cancel a three day strike planned from December 22-24 and instead hold a walkout from December 19-20.
It is also planning three-day strikes starting Tuesday December 6 and Saturday December 31.
The Aslef strikes were announced this week, and are planned for 13-14 December, 16 December, and between 9-14 January.
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