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UK — CWU warns temporary employment agencies not to supply staff

30 October 2009

As the national postal strike over work conditions and modernisation continues on its fourth day, with another day to come tomorrow, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has written to 40 temporary employment agencies telling them about their 'legal responsibilities' not to supply workers to do the jobs of striking staff, The Daily Mail reports.

The union is considering legal action against the Post Office (Royal Mail) and potentially temporary employment agencies over a management decision to draft in 30,000 temporary employees.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), temporary employment agencies Manpower and Reed are understood to already supply temporary employees to clear up the backlog and will continue to do so in the run up to Christmas.

It is indeed illegal to supply and employ temporary employees to do the work of legally striking postal workers. Should the case go to court, Royal Mail and temporary employment agencies will have to prove that temporary employees are not carrying out the work, which legally striking postmen would do but other work, which temporary employees would have been hired in for anyway.

Whilst major Royal Mail customers such as Marks and Spencer, Amazon, British Gas, House of Fraser and Argos are already defecting Royal Mail and have switched to other carriers or simply to internet transactions, the unions show no signs of giving in.

Billy Hayes, head of the CWU said "there is every prospect that we will increase the action and we could be looking at longer strikes."

Conservative Party spokesman Jonathan Djanogly described the decision to step up strike action as "suicidal", and warned that Royal Mail could "suffer a huge, permanent loss of business as a result."



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