Pensions  

Royal Mail wins court battle against pension strike

Royal Mail wins court battle against pension strike

Royal Mail has won an injunction to block a two-day strike by its workers set for next week over a pension and pay dispute.

The postal services company successfully argued that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) - whose members voted in favour of industrial action -, had not entered into a dispute resolution mechanism involving an external mediator, as required under a prior agreement.

Judge Justice Supperstone granted the order after a hearing yesterday (12 October) at London’s High Court.

CWU had given notice for a 48-hour strike, the first nationwide walkout at Royal Mail since its privatisation, on 5 October. The industrial action was due to begin at noon on 19 October.

Dave Ward, CWU’s general secretary, said that this verdict would make members “disappointed and angry”.

The company has “acted in bad faith,” he said, adding that the injunction granted has set a formal timetable for negotiations.

Unless the company shifted its position “significantly and quickly,” they would soon have to face “the reality of industrial action,” he added.

CWU’s said its decision to ballot industrial action was sparked by Royal Mail's “attack on the pension rights of hard-working postmen and women" as well as its the "refusal" to engage over pay, working hours, future job security and the need to improve and grow the service.

Royal Mail had a deadline which ended on 6 September to solve its long running pension dispute with workers.

Earlier this year, the UK postal operator announced it would be closing the Royal Mail Pension Plan, its current defined benefit (DB) scheme, to future accruals from next year.

Following union opposition, the company is offering members the choice of joining either a DB cash balance scheme or a defined contribution scheme.

From 1 April 2018, the DB cash balance scheme would provide members with a guaranteed lump sum at retirement.

In a statement Royal Mail said it 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 firm said.

The first step is selecting a mediator acceptable to Royal Mail and the union from a panel that was agreed by both parties.

Royal Mail said: “We are very committed to working closely with the CWU in order to reach agreement as a matter of priority.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com