London commuters heading home late last night faced major disruption after the High Court refused to grant an injunction to stop a 48-hour strike by Tube maintenance workers.
The decision by judges will be seen as a victory for the unions after a series of recent injunctions have scuppered plans for strikes by British Airways cabin crew, as well as an Easter holiday walk-out by national rail workers
Around a 1,000 members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) were due to walk out at 7pm last night after Tube Lines, responsible for repairs to the Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines, failed to convince judges of voting irregularities in the RMT ballot.
Bosses at Tube Lines claimed it only employed 30 engineers, whereas the union said 47 members of staff had voted. A Tube Lines spokeswoman said: "You can't have more people voting than are employed."
Transport for London insisted the disruption would be minimal but the RMT warned that the strike would have knock-on effects for the entire network.
Bob Crow, the general secretary of RMT, said: "Tube Lines have failed to give us the assurances we were seeking on jobs. The action goes ahead and it is clear that it will have a major impact and that there's a real danger that Tube officials will take serious risks with safety to try and run trains.
"We would call again on the Mayor [Boris Johnson], who takes over Tube Lines next week, to intervene, even to resolve, this dispute.
"If he can afford to fill the Tube Lines shareholders' pockets with a £310m pay-off, then he can afford to give our members the assurances on jobs and conditions."