A two-day strike by postal workers planned for later this month has been called off following a legal challenge by Royal Mail.
In a newsletter to members, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) blamed laws that are “heavily weighted against working people” for scrapping planned walkouts on 16 and 17 February.
The letter did not detail the nature of the challenge but insisted lawyers “have advised that we could defend our position in court”.
However, it adds that “given the laws in this country are heavily weighted against working people, the risks of losing in court may potentially impact on the re-ballot – we simply cannot allow this happen”.
The union’s strike mandate runs out on 17 February and members are currently being balloted on whether to strike for a further six months in the bitter dispute over pay and conditions.
The CWU said they received correspondence about the legal challenge over the weekend and called it “the latest in a long list of deliberate, sustained and coordinated attacks” on its members.
Union leaders said winning a yes vote in the next ballot “has to be our absolute focus” and that details of a “formal strike fund” to support workers taking industrial action will be announced shortly.
The union said they will re-enter negotiations with Royal Mail Group this week but warned: “If talks fail, we will significantly step up the programme of strike action.”
The CWU has been locked in the dispute with Royal Mail since autumn with members staging 18 days of strikes in the second half of 2022 over pay, jobs and conditions.
Members have been fighting proposed modernisation plans they say would “spell the end” of Royal Mail and want an improved pay deal on the “best and final” 9% offer they rejected last year.
The dispute has become increasingly bitter and personal, with company and union leaders at each others’ throats in a public battle for sympathy.
Dave Ward, head of the CWU, has claimed Royal Mail is using a “punishment charter” to intimidate striking workers and that union representatives have been suspended.
Meanwhile Simon Thompson, the CEO of Royal Mail, has accused CWU members of “extraordinary behaviours” and claimed he has received allegations of racism, sexism and violence on picket lines.
As the row rumbles on, Mr Thompson has been recalled to parliament to face further questions after a bruising session in front of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee last month.
This saw him face a grilling about his £140,000 bonus and half-a-million pound salary when the company is operating at a loss of around £1m a day and seeking to make thousands of redundancies to cut costs.
The committee recalled Mr Thompson after receiving evidence casting doubt over the accuracy of statements he made about his running of the company, particularly in regard to tracking workers and whether parcels are prioritised over letters.
Royal Mail responded: “We welcome the opportunity to expand on any points on which the committee would like clarification, and share the steps we are taking to resolve this dispute and secure the long-term future of Royal Mail for our people and customers.”