Royal Mail strike called off after union slip-up

Union leaders have been forced to call off a two-day postal strike following a legal challenge by Royal Mail bosses.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) blamed laws that are “heavily weighted against working people” for scrapping planned walkouts on Feb 16 and Feb 17.

The union will now not be able to call more strikes until March because its mandate runs out in the middle of February.

But its members will soon be compensated for striking as union leaders put the final touches to a “formal strike fund”.

Royal Mail challenged the validity of the latest round of strikes that were based on new changes to working practices such as changes to the routes taken by postal workers.

The CWU’s six-month mandate to call strikes, granted by members last August, did not include such changes, known as “revisions”, according to a legal challenge by Royal Mail.

The CWU’s 115,000 members employed by Royal Mail are being balloted over another six-month mandate for strike action. The ballot concludes on Feb 16.

The union said: “Having discussed this with our lawyers, they have advised that we could defend our position.

“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 on the re-ballot – we simply cannot allow this [to] happen.”

The CWU said that it was more important to win another six-month mandate for strikes than proceed with the walkouts on Feb 16 and Feb 17.

“We will re-enter negotiations with Royal Mail Group this week,” a spokesman said. “If talks fail, we will significantly step up the programme of strike action. The union will shortly announce details of a formal strike fund.”

Royal Mail and the CWU have been embroiled in a bitter dispute since last autumn as the former FTSE 100 company tries to reform what bosses deemed to be outdated working practices.

As many as 10,000 postal workers could lose their jobs under the reforms, which are being led by Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson.  

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