Royal Mail has vowed to stop the first national postal strike since 2013 after the union representing front line staff announced when it will stage a 48-hour walkout.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has refused to rule out strikes in the run-up to the crucial Christmas delivery period, said 110,000 workers will begin industrial action at 11am on Thursday 19 October.
Earlier this week, the union said staff had voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of a walkout – with representatives calling for Royal Mail bosses to resign because they had lost the trust of their workforce.
The CWU accuses management of presiding over a campaign of cost cutting and asset stripping since its controversial privatisation four years ago – hitting pay and pension deals in the process.
Royal Mail responded to the strike date announcement by immediately threatening to block it in the courts should its offer of further talks be rejected.
It claims a legal agreement it has in place with the union prevents it from taking strike action at the current stage of a grievance process.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a watershed dispute that will determine not only our members’ pensions, jobs and pay but also the future of the service.
“Postal workers delivered a massive Yes vote for strike action and we are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to deliver an agreement that will protect and enhance our members’ terms and conditions and improve the range of services on offer to customers.
“As well as this call to action, the CWU will now launch a major campaign to gain public and political support for postal workers.
“This is your service. We must work together to save it.”
The union said its members at Parcelforce will also be involved in the action, threatening wider disruption to deliveries.
Post Office mail operations, while not directly involved in the dispute, are likely to suffer knock-on effects.
Royal Mail indicated its efforts to block any strike would be on the grounds it would break an ‘Agenda for Growth’ labour agreement made with the CWU in 2013.
The company said: “Royal Mail will be writing to the CWU invoking the external mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth.
“These legally-binding dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes.
“We wish to use them to do just that. Royal Mail will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action.”