Royal Mail has won a high court injunction preventing the first national postal strike in a decade, which it said could have disrupted postal voting in the general election and the run-up to Christmas.
Members of the Communication Workers Union overwhelmingly backed industrial action by 97% last month, on a turnout of almost 76%. However, Royal Mail successfully argued that there were “irregularities” in the ballot.
The CWU had denied Royal Mail’s claims.
Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary, said its members were “extremely angry and bitterly disappointed”, and added that the union would take legal advice on a possible appeal.
He described Royal Mail’s decision to seek the injunction as “a cowardly and vicious attack on its own workforce”.
The price of Royal Mail shares rose by 3% following the judgment.
Royal Mail said in a statement to the stock market on Friday that it had supplied evidence from 72 sorting offices that unions breached legal obligations in holding the vote.
Union members are required to vote in private at home rather than at work. Royal Mail said some workers intercepted their ballot papers before they were delivered and filmed and photographed themselves voting in favour of strike action. The CWU said Royal Mail had relied on the witness statement of one manager.
Ward said: “Not one single person out of 110,000 who were balloted complained to Royal Mail that their right to vote was interfered with. Not one single person out of 110,000 who were balloted complained to the independent scrutineers that their right to vote was interfered with. The Electoral Reform Society, who conducted the ballot, confirmed it was run in full accordance of the law.”
The CWU had not set strike dates before Royal Mail’s application for the injunction. However, Royal Mail had argued that a strike could have an impact on postal votes before the general election on 12 December.
Royal Mail has been contacted for comment.