Royal Mail court ruling halts postal strike
Royal Mail has halted Britain’s first planned national walkout by postal workers since it was privatised, after successfully applying for a high court injunction.
Lawyers for the Communication Workers Union failed to rebuff an attempt at the Royal Courts of Justice to stop a 48hour walkout from next Thursday.
Members of the CWU voted overwhelmingly last week in favour of strikes. Staff were also considering taking industrial action during the Black Friday retail sales event next month or during the festive season.
Royal Mail, which was privatised four years ago, argued that the CWU had missed a Monday deadline to remove the threat and agree to negotiations. The company claimed that under an agreement between the two parties the CWU must enter mediation with Royal Mail before embarking on industrial action.
The CWU in turn claimed it had been trying to find a solution to the dispute for 18 months. Last week, 89% of the CWU’s 111,000 workers backed a walkout in a dispute over pensions, pay and jobs, with 74% of members turning out to vote.
The vote was a test for the union after the introduction of the Trade Union Act, which requires strike ballots to have a 50% turnout. Mr Justice Supperstone, who granted the injunction, said: “I consider the strike call to be unlawful and the defendant is obliged to withdraw its strike call until the external mediation process has been exhausted.”
More than 100 postal workers, including Dave Ward, the CWU’s general secretary, gathered outside the court for the verdict. Afterwards the union said it was “extremely disappointed” at the ruling and claimed that strike action was inevitable without a major change in position by the company.
Ward said: “The company are deluded if they believe their courtroom politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect.
“Postal workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members’ pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives.
“Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable.”
A spokesman for Royal Mail said: “We will now make contact with the CWU as a matter of urgency to begin the process of external mediation.”
He added that the “mediation process will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer”.
The court agreed with Royal Mail that the union must enter mediation with the company before launching any industrial action