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France – Court condemns use of temporary workers

06 September 2012

In what has been described as an “exceptional” ruling, the company La Poste has been sentenced by a criminal court in Eastern France this week for hiring temporary workers while their permanent employees were taking part in strike action.

On Tuesday, the Court in Lons-le-Saunier ordered the company to pay a fine of €3,750 on top of paying damages to the three unions – CFDR, Sud PTT and CGT – which had initiated the legal proceedings. The firm has to pay €500 to each union, as well as €300 in legal fees.

“The law prohibits the use of temporary employees to replace workers who are on strike. Moreover, La Poste has been convicted of assigning tasks, normally carried out by the striking staff (sorting and delivery of mail), during a strike of which the employer had been notified,” said the deputy prosecutor, Camille Miansoni.

The case goes back to April 2010 when staff took to several days of industrial action in order to protest over working conditions. La Poste then called in nearly 40 temporary workers to fill in for workers participating in the strike.

The court ruled that the company had chosen “an inelegant way to circumvent the right to strike.” The company denied the allegations and said the temporary workers were not carrying out the same tasks of the workers who were on strike.

“This is an important judgment, reminding of the unambiguous legal prohibition to use temporary workers to replace striking employees,” the prosecutor added.  

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