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Royal Mail union appeals court ruling on postal strike

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By Reuters
Royal Mail union appeals court ruling on postal strike
FILE PHOTO: A Royal Mail van drives through the Drumochter Pass, Scotland, Britain March 11, 2019.REUTERS/Russell Cheyne   -   Copyright  Russell Cheyne(Reuters)

By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) – Royal Mail’s <RMG.L> biggest workers’ union lodged an appeal on Wednesday with Britain’s High Court after the postal service company won an injunction to stop a strike ahead of a general election and holiday season next month.

Members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) had earlier voted to go on strike, saying that the company had failed to adhere to a pension deal agreed last year, but the court ruled last week that the ballot was unlawful.

Royal Mail has said it honoured the 2018 agreement with the union, with two pay increases, a working hours reduction and joint lobbying with the union of the government for a new pension scheme.

“Our appeal has been lodged with the High Court. We will update you on any further developments and when we know when it will be heard,” CWU said on Twitter.

CWU had not given exact dates for when a strike could take place, but Royal Mail has warned strikes could affect deliveries of postal votes in the Dec. 12 election and Christmas parcels.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said that the company noted the union’s move to appeal the court ruling.

Shares of the FTSE 250 company slightly extended losses after the CWU tweet and were down 1.9% in afternoon trade.

After winning its bid to block the Christmas strike on Nov. 13, Royal Mail reiterated that if the union removed the threat of a strike for the rest of 2019, the company would enter talks without preconditions. CWU rejected the offer and called it a “stunt” which the union would not fall for.

Royal Mail said then that the interim injunction meant that no industrial action could take place before the union held a “lawful” ballot of its members, and that they had voted in favour and formally notified the company.

Royal Mail’s daily delivery service of letters and parcels in the UK could be affected by strike action as the service forms the bulk of the company’s business, which also includes e-commerce operations. Parcelforce Worldwide, Royal Mail’s express courier parcel service, has been excluded from CWU’s ballot.

It handled 164 million parcels in the December trading period last year, according to a company statement.

Two years ago, Royal Mail blocked a strike by the union, winning a High Court injunction preventing action during the crucial pre-Christmas delivery period.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Susan Fenton)