Royal Mail has successfully blocked workers from lawfully holding a strike over the Christmas shopping period which posed a “major threat to UK retail”.
The High Court ruled yesterday that the Communications Workers Union’s (CWU) ballot, in which 97 per cent of over 100,000 employees voted in favour of strike action, was unlawful.
An interim injunction has now been put in place preventing workers from striking until a “lawful” ballot has taken place resulting in another vote in favour of strike action, a process which could take over a month.
The CWU has reacted with outrage, claiming the decision threw “democracy in the bin”, while describing it as “spurious”, “political”, “nonsense”, “ridiculous” and “sour grapes from people who have lost the support of the workforce.”
Royal Mail said that the ballot did not conform to the Trade Unions and Labour Regulations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA), which states union members can “vote in the privacy of their own homes” to protect “democratic integrity”, as some workers were made to sign the ballot in the presence of colleagues.
“It is vital that our colleagues are able to vote without any constraint imposed on them by any other party,” Royal Mail’s managing director of corporate affairs Shane O’Riordain said.
“The trade union legislation is designed to safeguard democratic integrity by ensuring union members can vote in the privacy of their own homes, rather than in any public process.”
Strike action over the coming weeks had been planned to cause as much disruption as possible, with research from BearPoint suggesting a strike over Black Friday alone could cause 8.5 million parcels to be handed to more expensive private carriers, costing the retail industry millions in fees.
According to BearingPoint’s partner Stuart Higgins, any action over this period is likely to have a “huge impact on the British Public”.
CWU members planned to strike over allegations that the Royal Mail is failing to meet an agreement reached last year, covering a raft of issues including job security and working hours.
The Royal Mail said it “remains committed to its agreements with CWU” and that since its “2018 agreement, we have honoured two pay awards and the first hour of the shorter working week.”