A walkout by postal workers scheduled for next week has been called off after a legal challenge from Royal Mail.
Around 115,000 Royal Mail workers represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) had planned to strike for 24 hours from 12:30pm on 16 February.
It is the second time CWU has had to postpone industrial action due to legal technicalities. In October CWU cancelled a planned strike after a legal letter from Royal Mail highlighted “material concerns” with the formal notification process.
On that occasion, strikes resumed just weeks later and escalated over the Christmas period. While CWU’s current mandate expires on 17 February, the result of a fresh ballot of Royal Mail workers is expected on 16 February.
Royal Mail strike cancelled
Last night a statement from CWU said that over the weekend it had received correspondence from Royal Mail Group’s legal representatives challenging the postal strike on 16-17 February.
The basis of the legal challenge is twofold. Firstly, that the next week’s strikes relate to issues not covered by the original ballot, something CWU general secretary Dave Ward described this morning as “complete and utter nonsense”.
Secondly, that some of the industrial action on 16-17 February would affect workers’ duties on 18 February, a date not covered by the current strike mandate.
“Having discussed this with our lawyers, they have advised that we could defend our position in court,” said the CWU. “However, they have also advised that given the laws in this country are heavily weighted against working people, the risks of losing in court may potentially impact the re-ballot – we simply cannot allow that to happen.
“On this basis, the [CWU’s] postal executive do not believe it is worth risking the status of the new ballot mandate.”
Ward described the decision not to strike as a “no-brainer” and that the focus must be on the second ballot.
The CWU added that it is re-entering negotiations with Royal Mail Group this week but that if talks fail it will “significantly step up the programme of strike action”.
Royal Mail said in a statement: “We welcome the fact that the strike action has been called off. It will be a relief to our customers and we intend to use this time and space for further discussions to try to agree a deal.”
The CWU has rejected Royal Mail’s offer of a pay rise of up to 9% over 18 months in exchange for changes to working hours and voluntary Sunday working.