Royal Mail threatens legal action against workers

Panicked bosses at Royal Mail have threatened legal action against the Communication Workers Union that legally voted for strike action over pensions, pay and terms.

The postal operator has its back against the wall, with potential action by the union taking place on Black Friday or Cyber Monday when the network will be at full stretch, and it could cost the privatised company millions in lost sales.

The embattled postal operator released a statement on Thursday that the CWU is planning its first waves of strikes beginning at 11am on Thursday 19th October until 11am Saturday 21st October. The ballot by the union was held last weekend and was overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

Royal Mail reiterated that it is “committed to further talks as a matter of urgency to reach agreement with the CWU”.

The newly privatised postal operator has said it will be writing to the union invoking the external mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth (to which both Royal Mail and CWU made their commitment in 2013).

According to Royal Mail: “These legally-binding dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes. We wish to use them to do just that. Royal Mail will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action.”

Royal Mail continued: “External mediation as set out in the Agenda for Growth agreement has not yet taken place. A clear mechanism for instituting these procedures is set out in writing in the Agenda for Growth. It includes: a) Formal notice of a referral to external mediation from one party to the other; b) The appointment of an external mediator through the mutually agreed process and; c) A comprehensive mediation process which includes the mediator preparing a detailed report, including recommendations for both parties. None of these processes have happened yet.”

Tellingly, a Royal Mail spokesperson added: “We believe any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures have been followed would be unlawful strike action.” It is interesting to note that despite sky high pensions agreements for the board and severe cuts to pensions for the workers, there hasn’t been a strike at Royal Mail since privatisation.
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