Royal Mail halts 48-hour strike after obtaining high court injunction

royal mail strike

Communication Workers Union lawyers fail to rebuff attempt at Royal Courts of Justice to stop 19 October 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, reports The Guardian.

Lawyers for the Communication Workers Union failed to rebuff an attempt at the Royal Courts of Justice to stop a 48-hour walkout from 19 October.

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 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.

The company has written to the CWU invoking a “legally binding external mediation process”, and reiterating that any industrial action would be unlawful.

Last week, 74 per cent of the CWU’s 111,000 postal workers voted in a ballot over the dispute about pensions, pay and jobs, with 89 per cent of them backing a walkout. The vote was a test for the union after the introduction of the Trade Union Act, which requires strike ballots to have a 50 per cent turnout.

The ballot is part of a flurry of union activity this autumn as public sector and health workers discuss the possibility of industrial action.

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 high 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.”

The Labour MP Gill Furniss pledged her support for the union, telling the protest: “Despite the draconian laws imposed on workers, the CWU well surpassed the thresholds and sent a clear message to the company.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the court injunction meant any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures had been followed would be unlawful.

“We will now make contact with the CWU as a matter of urgency to begin the process of external mediation. The mediation process will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer. The first step is selecting a mediator acceptable to Royal Mail and the CWU from a panel that was agreed by both parties,” he said.