Cross-posted from our friends at Tubeworker:
District line drivers were due to start industrial action this weekend, as the company ploughs ahead with its imposition of ATO (SMA3) without adequate support or training.
But RMT has called off the action after the company threatened to seek a court injunction against it. Tubeworker understands that the basis of the legal challenge was a claim by the company that the proposed action - refusing to drive in automatic mode in the SMA3 section - constituted a strike, while the union had balloted only for industrial action short of strikes.
First and foremost, this is yet another illustration that Britain's trade union law is all about stopping workers taking action. It's another reason for us to step up our campaigning against anti-union laws, alongside other unions and the Free Our Unions campaign.
But Tubeworker has a further concern. No court has banned this action. Rather, RMT called it off on the basis of a threat that the company would ask a court to ban it.
RMT's circular states that the NEC had "no alternative but to call off the planned industrial action". In a literal sense, this is simply not true. It could have kept the action on, leaving the ball in the company's court as to whether to seek a legal injunction. Even if the company had done that, and even if it had succeeded (neither of which were guaranteed), then at least the union would have fought - and be seen to have fought - all the way. That might have cost some money, but what is the union's money for other than fighting for members' rights?
And we have to ask: If the union's legal advice was that the company had a good chance of winning its injunction, then why did the union apparently not check that the action was legally secure before carrying out the ballot and calling the action?