Royal Mail applies for high court injunction in attempt to stop strike

Royal Mail is making an application to the high court to try to block workers from staging a strike over job security and employment conditions that it says risks having an impact on the UK’s general election.

The company claims there were “potential irregularities” in the ballot of Communication Workers Union (CWU) members over industrial action that could mean the recent vote was “unlawful”. It has also contacted the communications regulator, Ofcom, over its concerns.

“The company is making this high court application because the integrity and legal soundness of any electoral process is vital. This is particularly the case in relation to potential industrial action around the general election on 12 December 2019,” the company said in a stock market announcement on Friday.

“Royal Mail is also making this application because of the damage industrial action would do to the company and its customers in the run-up to Christmas.”

The application will argue that CWU officials broke the rules for a postal ballot of its membership, which stipulate the process should take place in the privacy of their own homes without the interference by the union.

However, Royal Mail says it has evidence that members were being instructed to open their ballot papers at their delivery offices and encouraged to cast their votes in favour of a strike while in groups. It says workers were also persuaded to be filmed while casting their vote, before posting ballots together at their workplace postboxes.

“Royal Mail’s procedures make it clear that employees cannot open their mail at the delivery office without the prior authorisation of their manager. Alongside our application for an injunction, we will review whether any further action is required,” the company said.

CWU workers last month backed industrial action by 97% in a turnout of almost 76%. The vote could potentially lead to the first national postal strike in a decade. The union said Royal Mail had breached an agreement put forward last year that included plans to reduce the working week.

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