// Royal Mail seeks High Court injunction to block planned December strike by postal workers
// The planned strike would take place in the middle of the crucial Christmas trading season, affecting online shopping deliveries
// Union members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike but Royal Mail believe their were irregularities in the ballot process
Royal Mail is seeking an injunction to prevent a planned strike by postal workers, claiming there are “potential irregularities in the ballot” that make the vote unlawful.
The company will go to the High Court today for an interim order against the Communication Workers Union (CWU), whose members voted overwhelmingly for a walkout.
The strike was planned for December, potentially affecting online shopping deliveries during the crucial Christmas trading season.
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“The company is making this High Court application because the integrity and legal soundness of any electoral process is vital,” the Royal Mail said.
“This is particularly the case in relation to potential industrial action around the General Election on 12 December 2019.
“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 dispute between workers and senior management pertains to job security and employment terms and conditions.
Last month members of the CWU backed action by 97 per cent in a turnout of almost 75 per cent.
However, the Royal Mail said: “The company believes the evidence demonstrates that CWU officials, including co-ordination and direction at a senior level, have planned and orchestrated breaches of their legal obligations.”
It added bosses have found “at least 72” UK sites where staff were being asked to intercept and remove their ballot papers from mail coming into their delivery offices, before they were delivered to their homes.
The Royal Mail added it had evidence of workers “being instructed to vote “yes” and being encouraged to do so in groups; and being encouraged 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’s procedures state employees cannot open their mail at delivery offices without the prior authorisation of their manager.
Industrial relations at the company have worsened this year, with widespread unofficial strikes breaking out regularly.
The CWU previously said the result of the ballot, which was open between September 24 and October 15, represented the largest yes vote for national industrial action since the passing of the Trade Union Act 2016.
Unions allege that up to 50,000 jobs were at risk at Royal Mail, as well as subsidiary Parcelforce under plans to separate it from the postal business.
A CWU spokesman said: “Royal Mail have made an application to take us to the High Court. They claim there are irregularities with our ballot.
“We clearly refute this and will be represented. This is nothing but a desperate and sinister move.”