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Royal Mail Seeks Court Order to Block Looming National Strike

Andrew Noël

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Mail Plc is asking a U.K. court to block a strike that threatens to throw the world’s oldest postal service into disarray ahead of next month’s general election and the busy Christmas holiday season.

The U.K. Communications Workers Union last month received overwhelming support from workers for a national walkout. Royal Mail said on Friday that it believes there are “potential irregularities” in the ballot, rendering it unlawful.

“This is particularly the case in relation to potential industrial action around the general election,” the company said in a statement.

In an emailed response, the union denied the allegations and said it will make its case at the Nov. 12 High Court hearing.

Royal Mail is trying to ward off a walkout that would hurt earnings during a peak period for postal services. Government owned for almost five centuries, the privatized London-based company is seeking a greater share of the growing market for parcel deliveries.

The CWU criticized the company for not engaging in “any meaningful discussions” over plans to separate the parcel-delivery business.

Royal Mail said union officials including at a senior level “have planned and orchestrated breaches of their legal obligations.” The company cited irregularities in balloting in at least 72 of its U.K. sites, including encouraging and instructing workers to vote ‘yes’ to a strike.

Shares of the delivery company rose 0.2%, taking losses to 18% this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Noël in London at anoel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Tara Patel, Peter Chapman

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