After two visits to the High Court, the Communication Workers Union has accepted legal advice stating that its intention to lead a blockade of almost half of the UK’s letter mail, in protest against private sector competition to Royal Mail, would be unlawful.
It would have affected about 26 million letters a day, more than 44% of the UK mail stream.
The union balloted 112,000 members last month, with 92% stating that they would be willing to boycott mail collected and processed by Royal Mail’s competitors.
The CWU today accepted that under UK law, it could not urge members to boycott downstream access mail, but said it will be considering holding a ballot specifically about industrial action.
Union boss Dave Ward said: “We have accepted the advice of lawyers that it would not be legal to take action on boycotting competitors’ mail on the basis of the consultative ballot result alone.
“We are now considering how this action could be taken. There are a number of outstanding issues for our members in Royal Mail and we are exploring the possibility of holding a national industrial action ballot which could also deal with the boycott.”
The move comes as the CWU has this week rejected a new three-year pay deal based on a 8.6% base pay increase over three years. Staff were also being offered £500 in Christmas bonuses over the three years, starting with £300 this December.
However, the CWU has branded the deal “misleading and unacceptable”, suggesting protections for workers in the face of the forthcoming privatisation were “not worth the paper they’re written on”.
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