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Strike action: Network Rail turns to Eversheds for legal challenge over rail workers’ looming walkout

Eversheds has been instructed by Network Rail on its legal challenge to the TSSA union in an attempt to limit disruption should talks regarding a planned rail strike this bank holiday weekend fail.

With members of the TSSA voting to join RMT union workers in a 24-hour walkout from 5pm on Monday over pay and jobs, Network Rail alleges there were ‘numerous defects’ in the union’s ballot information. An interim injunction application hearing against the TSSA is set for tomorrow (21 May) at the High Court unless parties resolve the issue before then.

Network Rail are represented by a team from Eversheds led by partner and head of industrial relations in the London office Marc Meryon. The firm has instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Paul Gott QC and Devereux Chambers’ Bruce Carr QC. The TSSA is represented by trade union and personal injury firm Morrish Solicitors with senior partner Paul Scholey leading. The Leeds-based firm has instructed Old Square Chambers’ John Hendy QC alongside barrister Betsan Criddle.

In total the dispute affects around 25,000 of Network Rail’s 35,000 staff.

A Network Rail spokesperson said yesterday (19 May): ‘We have asked the TSSA to withdraw notice of their industrial action as we believe there are numerous defects in their ballot information. Network Rail has a responsibility to passengers, freight users and to the country as a whole to do everything we can to avert a strike. Talks with the unions continue and we hope to reach a settlement, but we must explore all avenues at our disposal and that includes legal ones.’

TSSA’s general secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘Our members are clearly very angry over the four year pay offer and particularly the one off £500 payment for this year which would mean them falling behind the cost of living. The last three years with RPI increases mean they would keep ahead with the cost of living. That is also what we want to see for this year as well. We are involved in talks to avert a dispute and we hope those talks succeed. No one wants to see a Bank Holiday weekend disrupted for millions of passengers.’