Britain's largest postal union has hit back at Royal Mail claims that planned strikes later this month are unlawful.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) yesterday revealed plans for 48-hour walk out from 19 October.
Shortly afterwards, Royal Mail responded by referencing "legally-binding dispute resolution procedures" that stipulate the pair must first enter into five weeks of arbitration before industrial action can commence.
But in a short video to union members late yesterday evening, deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said the response from Royal Mail had come as a "shock".
“As far as we’re concerned, we’ve adhered to that agreement. We’ve exhausted that agreement," he said.
The CWU argued that representatives from mediators firm Acas attended the months of previous negotiations and therefore satisfied the requirements of the dispute resolution procedures.
We believe that we have kept the talks going. These talks have been going on for over 18 months and if there was going to be some sort of external mediation process it should have been way before now. In fact, we have indeed used external mediation in these talks, which the business would have paid for as well.
Not yet taken place
In yesterday's announcement, however, Royal Mail said: "External mediation as set out in the Agenda for Growth agreement has not yet taken place.
Royal Mail will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action.
Pullinger said the response "beggars belief", adding: “It strikes me that they are going to find any reason that they can [to stop the strike]. And if necessary any legal means that they can."
Royal Mail declined to comment further on the latest CWU statements.
Read more: Union votes in favour of Royal Mail strikes
The process Royal Mail says needs to happen before strikes take place
a) Formal notice of a referral to external mediation from one party to the other;
b) The appointment of an external mediator through the mutually agreed process and;
c) A comprehensive mediation process which includes the mediator preparing a detailed report, including recommendations for both parties.