The direct marketing industry is calling for both Royal Mail and the Communications Workers Union to get back round the negotiating table to avert a potentially highly damaging strike, amid fears that an increasingly bitter dispute could put the kibosh on the direct mail revival.
The move follows yesterday’s High Court injunction won by Royal Mail to halt next week’s planned walk-out which has increased tensions between the two parties.
CWU members were set for a 48-hour strike from October 19 after voting massively in favour of industrial action in a long-running dispute over pensions, pay and jobs.
However, Royal Mail argued in the High Court that the union was in breach of its contractual obligation not to call for strike action until an agreed external mediation process was held.
Mr Justice Supperstone said: “I consider the strike call to be unlawful and the defendant is obliged to withdraw its strike call until the external mediation process has been exhausted.”
In response, CWU general secretary Dave Ward blasted: “The company is deluded if they believe their courtroom politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. They haven’t cancelled this dispute, they’ve just postponed the dispute.
“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… strike action is inevitable. We walked into the court today with a massive 90% yes vote for strike action – we walked out of the court today with a massive 90% vote for strike action.”
The DMA has already called for both parties to “urgently” settle their differences but one industry source claims this new twist in the dispute has upped the ante.
He said: “This legal action may have simply delayed the inevitable. There are obviously deep-rooted differences that need to be sorted. While Christmas is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for many online retailers, there are alternatives to Royal Mail.
“But in the direct mail market there are no other options; Royal Mail handles virtually every single mailshot. Any strike action could scupper all the hard work that Royal Mail MarketReach, the Strategic Mailing Partnership and others have done in reviving the direct mail sector. At a time when digital marketing is coming under closer scrutiny, there is an opportunity for mail to thrive. That could be seriously under threat now.”
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