Dispute Delivery: Royal Mail win injunction at the High Court

November 28, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Royal Mail believes that its employees were forced into voting for a strike due to take place during the period of the general election. As a result, Royal mail sought an injunction at the High Court.

What does this mean?

An injunction is a court order, where an individual or company is obliged to or not to do something. Royal Mail submitted claims to the High Court with regards to “potential irregularities” in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) ballot. 

According to Royal Mail, employees’ votes on whether to have a strike were tampered. To illustrate, the casting of ballots is meant to take place privately. However, Royal Mail had evidence that its employees were asked to alter their votes at delivery offices. Moreover, before submitting their ballots, Royal Mail stated that employees were forced to film themselves.

Royal Mail won the injunction. High Court judge, Mr Justice Swift ruled that the disruptions during voting contributed to “improper interference”. Additionally, Mr Swift stated that the injunction affects the wider public due to the collection of postal votes during the election.

What's the big picture effect?

The injunction likely affects Royal Mail’s relationship with its employees. A representative from the CWU claims that granting the injunction displays “Royal Mail’s attack on its own workforce”. If there continues to be hostility between the CWU and Royal Mail, employees may risk losing wages and employee benefits. Therefore, employees may have to decide between being loyal to either CWU or Royal Mail.

The granting of an injunction led to Royal Mail’s shares increasing by 1.4%. The injunction has encouraged investors’ confidence, despite Royal Mail’s prediction of a 5%-7% decline in parcel and letter volume this year. Along with this dispute, Royal Mail has been fined £50 million for not complying with competition law. As such, its share value may fluctuate again once Royal Mail presents its half-year reports.

CWU’s call for a strike displays a broader trend of the rise of strikes in the UK. The strike was likely to cause a disruption to the UK economy, considering the recent disruption caused by the British Airways strike (for more information, see our article on that here) and the potential disruption from the RMT Union’s 27-day rail strike in December too. Since Corbyn became Labour’s leader, unions have contributed to nearly 80% of Labour donations. These donations are likely a form of support to Labour wanting to reassess union laws. As such, it has been predicted that if the UK reaches its 1979 strike levels again (its highest level), 29.5 million working days may be lost.

Accordingly, strikes impacts the employees, employers, investors and unions. However, this case contributes to a wider pattern of unions encouraging strikes due to employees’ working conditions.

Report written by Marselia Ong

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