Midlands Division Defending The 4 Pillars Agreement – November2019 The High Court Judgement Explained

Midlands Division

Defending The 4 Pillars Agreement  November2019

The High Court Judgement Explained


This Members Bulletin is designed to explain the judgement of the High Court in RMG’s Injunction application, the relevant law and the issues that were raised in the Court,


The case was heard by Mr Justice Swift who has been a High Court Judge for around 1 year. Justice Swift decided, in his wisdom, to uphold RMG’s application and declared our ballot unlawful.


Below is a reminder of the result in our industrial action ballot:


Number of ballot papers issued:     110,292

Number of papers returned:       83,704

Ballot turnout:       75.9%

Number of YES votes:       81,232

Number of NO votes:         2,421

Percentage voting YES:                     97.1%


The law that governs Trade Union industrial action ballots is the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 (TULRA), which has recently been amended by the Trade Union Act 2016.


The Trade Union Laws in the UK are the most repressive in Europe.  The part of the TULRA that deals with industrial action runs for 38 pages and contains 43 Sections. The law is designed to make it as hard as is possible for a union to obtain a lawful ballot for industrial action. Some of the requirements of the law are:

 We are required to appoint an Independent Scrutineer to conduct the ballot. We fully complied with this requirement.


 We are required to supply the employer with a massive amount of information before we commence the ballot. We fully complied with this requirement.


 We are required to supply the employer with a sample of the industrial action ballot paper. We fully complied with this requirement.


 We must take all reasonable steps to ensure that all members included in the ballot receives a ballot paper. We fully complied with this requirement.


 We are required to send the ballot paper to members home addresses. We fully complied with this requirement as ballot papers were posted to members home addresses. 


 Members must be allowed to vote without interference. We fully complied with this requirement as there was not a single complaint of interference from any CWU member to the Independent Scrutineer, CWU Headquarters, the Certification Officer or Royal Mail,for that matter. 


 We are required to ensure that at least 50% of members balloted take part in the ballot. We fully complied with this requirement as we achieved a 75.9% return. This return is higher than the turnout in the Brexit Referendum and all General Elections in the last 25 years.


 We are required to ensure that of those voting at least 50% vote YES. We fully complied with this requirement as we achieved an astonishing 97.1% YES vote. The largest YES vote ever achieved in a national industrial action ballot.


So, Why Were We Injuncted?


Justice Swift decided there were three reasons:


× Because some members in DO’s intercepted their ballot paper in the office, Justice Swift decided that this turned the ballot from a postal ballot to a workplace ballot. So, even though the union fully complied with law to post ballots out to members home addresses – we still breached this part of the law!


× There was one video showing a couple of members completing their ballot paper in the workplace. These members were voluntarily doing this and happy to be filmed. Despite this, Justice Swift decided that this amounted to ‘interference’ in the ballot. So, even though there was not a single complaint from any CWU member alleging interference, the union was guilty of interference!


× Justice Swift decided that because there is a General Election this was another reason to injunct the union. So, even though there is nothing in the law that prevents unions from having industrial action during a General Election, he decided that it is not acceptable!




Incredibly, on the first two reasons given by Justice Swiftthese issues happened during the 2017 Four Pillars campaignand Royal Mail made no complaint that this was a breach of the law.


Even if these activities technically breached the balloting regulations; with a 97.1% YES vote, even if you excluded all votes identified by Royal Mail as breaching the regulations there is no possibility that this could turn this YES vote into a no vote.


For a judge to decide that because a General Election has been called (after we had balloted) that this is grounds for nullifying a ballot where over 80,000 members had voted YES is a disgrace. In short, Justice Swift decided that our democracy was worthless. 


This injunction is perhaps the greatest demonstration of how the law and the justice system is stacked against Trade Unions.


Members should also be very angry with Royal Mail. This is your employer seeking to silence the voices of over 80,000 of their employees.


Next Steps


We are still in dispute with Royal Mail.


Firstly, we will appeal the judgment of Justice Swift to the Court of Appeal.


If necessary, we will re-ballot members (and ensure the issues complained of do not re-occur.)


The dispute will only be resolved via a national agreement covering the issues in dispute. The sooner Royal Mail enters into negotiations with the CWU, the sooner we can resolve the dispute.


We Rise Again!



No Justice – No Peace

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