The Communication Workers Union has branded Royal Mail “deluded” following a decision by the High Court that ruled any strike before mediation procedures are complete would be “unlawful”.
The High Court has ruled that the contractual dispute resolution procedures under the Agenda for Growth must be followed before industrial action can take place. The court's final injunction means that any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures have been followed would be unlawful. Royal Mail has said it believes the process will go on until Christmas, but could be longer.
“We will now make contact with the CWU as a matter of urgency to begin the process of external mediation. The mediation process will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer. The first step is selecting a mediator acceptable to Royal Mail and the CWU from a panel that was agreed by both parties under the Agenda for Growth.
“The Agenda for Growth is a balanced agreement which gives significant protections to Royal Mail employees. In return, the CWU committed to an industrial stability framework with defined processes and strict timescales to resolve disputes. We want to use them to do just that. We are very committed to working closely with the CWU in order to reach agreement as a matter of priority.”
In response to the judgment, the CWU said it is “extremely disappointed” and accused the company of using “desperate delaying tactics”.
“Legal proceedings and Royal Mail’s court room politics will not solve the company’s problems. The union has nothing to fear from mediation and unless there is significant movement from the company on a range of issues and a satisfactory agreement is concluded, the union will be calling further strike action once the mediation process has been completed. Furthermore, we will not allow Royal Mail to string out the process beyond the minimum required period,” the CWU said.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward added: "The company are deluded if they believe their court room politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. Postal Workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives. Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable.”
He said the union will comply with the High Court’s injunction but “sooner rather than later Royal Mail Group will have to confront the harsh reality that they are completely out of touch with the views of its workforce”.
CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger said: "We saw today that Royal Mail Group would rather spend time, money and resources playing politics than engaging with this union to reach an agreement. Our members are square behind the CWU and from this moment we are putting Royal Mail on notice of further action should the mediation fail. Let me be clear - we will not stand by and see this once great institution run into the ground. Our members will stand up and save it by whatever means are necessary.
"We will use the mediation process to seek an agreement but also to galvanise support amongst our members and the public. Be in no doubt though, if Royal Mail Group are not serious about reaching an agreement we will not hesitate to call strike action immediately after the mediation period closes."