Royal Mail: build mass pickets to stop strikebreaking

Submitted by Matthew on 22 October, 2009 - 11:39

In the face of the mass scabbing operation Royal Mail is attempting to organise under the cover of hiring its Christmas casuals early, the CWU needs to act quickly and decisively, and the labour movement should back it up on the picket lines.

Picketing should be stepped up on strike days. Union members should approach casuals and ask them to join the union and not cross picket lines. Membership should be offered free or at greatly reduced rates. It should be made clear to casuals that once they join the CWU they should join the strikes - and they have a right to do so. We should explain that postal workers have a quarrel with Royal Mail, not with the casual staff themselves, who are facing all the exploitation that management hopes to heap on permanent staff too: low wages, no job security, management bullying.

In addition to 'regular' workplaces where we picket, the union should find out where temporary scab delivery offices are being set up, big or small, and send delegations to picket and talk to the casual workers there.

Under regulation 7 of the 2003 Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations and the Employment Agencies Act 1973 it is illegal to knowingly supply workers to conduct duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in industrial action. The CWU should encourage casuals in every office to get together and demand CWU vetting of all work they are asked to do to see if that work would break the law by strike-breaking.

The rest of the labour movement should give solidarity. Support committees should help posties picket scab delivery offices and discourage local jobseekers from signing up as strikebreakers. Student Unions should work to stop students from taking these jobs. PCS members working in Job Centres and the Department for Work and Pensions should demand their management check the legality of any Royal Mail or agency advertising for jobs in the post before they process those job offers.

What the Law Says:

2003 Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations.

“Regulation 7: Restriction on providing work-seekers in industrial disputes

Regulation 7(1) provides that an employment business may not supply a temporary worker to a hirer to replace an individual taking part in an official strike or any other official industrial dispute. In addition, an employment business must not introduce or supply a work-seeker to do the work of someone who has been transferred by the hirer to perform the duties of the person on strike or taking industrial action. An employment business will have a legal defence to having acted in breach of this regulation if it does not know, or has no reasonable grounds for knowing, that official strike action is in progress.

Regulation 7(2) provides that this regulation applies to official strike action only. In other words it does not apply to unofficial strike action."

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