Royal Mail takes court action to stop Xmas strike action
Carrier claims 'irregularities' in ballot of union members
Royal Mail said it was taking legal action to stop a strike by workers over the crucial Christmas period, claiming “irregularities” in the ballot of union members.
The company said it was applying for an injunction on Friday at the High Court because the “integrity and legal soundness" of any electoral process was "vital”, especially with the December 12 General Election looming. It expected the application to be heard on November 11.
Royal Mail claimed it had "substantial evidence" from at least 72 of its sites that members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were asked to intercept and remove their ballot papers from mail coming into their delivery offices, before they were delivered to their homes, contravening company procedures.
It added that they had been instructed to vote 'yes' and “being encouraged to do so in groups” and were also told to open their ballot papers on site, mark them as 'yes', “with their colleagues present and filming or photographing them doing so, before posting their ballots together at their workplace postboxes”.
“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,” it added.
In response to the legal threat, the CWU said it "clearly" refuted the allegations of irregularities "and will be represented".
The union last month voted by 97% in favour of a nationwide strike, saying the company had failed to adhere to a pension deal agreed last year. It rejected an offer of talks without preconditions if the threat of action was removed.
"Under the postal regulatory framework, Royal Mail is required to have documented operating procedures in relation to mails integrity; these are in place," the company said.
"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. We have also informed (industry regulator) Ofcom."