The Communication Workers Union has accused Royal Mail's court action against a planned strike as a "desperate delaying tactic" and claimed industrial action is "inevitable", after the High Court ruled the scheduled walkout to be unlawful yesterday.

Industrial action over disputed pension reforms was scheduled for 19 October, having been voted for by 89% of CWU members at Royal Mail, with a 73% turnout.

Contesting the legality of the strike in light of an agreement signed by both parties in 2013, Royal Mail said CWU had not followed the agreed dispute resolution measures, and the High Court ruled in the postal operator's favour.

But CWU general secretary Dave Ward said a strike by Royal Mail workers over the suggested pension and wage reforms remained an inevitability.

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He said: "The company are deluded if they believe their court room politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. Postal workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives.

“Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable."

Commenting on its victory yesterday, Royal Mail said it wanted to begin an external mediation process with the CWU "as a matter of urgency", but which would likely prevent strike action from taking place in the run up to Christmas.