High Court hears Royal Mail bid to stop strike disrupting Christmas post

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
A sheet of first class stamps. Up to 60 Post Offices are set to be transferred to the private sector, which along with job cuts and pension changes has led to strikes by the CWU union
Royal Mail staff voted to walk out. Photo: PA

The high court is set to hear Royal Mail’s legal bid to block a strike by its workers on Tuesday that could threaten Christmas deliveries and postal votes.

Lawyers for the state-owned company (RMG.L) will argue the way a union handled the ballot for strike action involved “irregularities” that mean the vote is not valid.

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) had balloted tens of thousands of postal workers last month in a row over pensions, pay, working hours and other disputed issues.

It had not announced a date for any action but secured 97% backing for a walkout, which would be the first national postal strike in a decade.

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But Royal Mail said in a statement last week it had evidence that union officials “planned and orchestrated breaches of their legal obligations.”

It claimed union members were instructed to vote ‘yes,’ and “encouraged to do so in groups.”

It also alleged workers were encouraged to “intercept” and open ballot papers en route to their homes, before voting and posting them back “with their colleagues present and filming or photographing them.”

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The CWU has said they “clearly refute” the claims, but Royal Mail wants an interim order from the court to block any CWU action until it has held a lawful ballot.

The strike would spark huge problems for the company and the public at one of the busiest periods of the year, with fears over Christmas and election postal vote deliveries. It has said it would prioritise postal ballot papers.

The dispute is over union claims that the company failed to honour an agreement reached last year over pensions, pay, working hours and other issues. Royal Mail has said it honoured the deal.