By politics.co.uk staff
Legal action by British Airways has successfully blocked tomorrow's planned strike.
The ruling at the high court went against the grain of expectations by most experts. The Unite union lost because it failed to follow industrial action rules relating to the need to contact all those eligible for voting with the result of the ballot.
"This is a desperately worrying judgement," TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented.
"A strike that clearly has majority support has been turned down on a tiny technicality. This - and other recent decisions - begin to make it look as if there is no effective right to strike in today's Britain."
Unite's joint boss, Tony Woodley, said before the ruling the original basis for the dispute - BA's proposed cost-cutting measures - had already been resolved, but the disagreement has now moved on to the restoration of staff travel perks.
BA originally removed travel perks from some staff because of their involvement in the strike, in a hostile move which many observers considered unhelpful to the reconciliation process.
Talks took place today between the two side, and there were discussions with the new transport secretary, Phillip Hammond.
Tomorrow would have marked the first of 20 days of strike action, further reducing BA's chances of survival as it is beset by industrial action and the impact of the volcanic ash cloud.