PCS urge Met Police to investigate ‘criminal use’ of agency staff to break strikes at government departments

10 Jul 2019

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka has written to Cressida Dick urging the Met Police to investigate two government departments, where it appears agency staff were used to break recent strike actions by low-paid workers.

The Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) headed up by Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt, stand accused of allowing agency staff to be brought in to cover stoppages by contracted out workers, on their watch.

Workers at BEIS employed by Aramark and ISS have been on strike several times since December in a campaign for the London Living Wage.

And Interserve staff at the FCO have been on strike over a lack of union recognition and several redundancies.

The union found out that Expeditious Security provided people to cover ISS striking workers from 17 to 21 June. And Premier Workplace Services and Concept Building Services covered roles of striking Interserve workers on the 1, 2, 21 and 22 May and from 10 to 14 June.

Under regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations of 2003, it is illegal for any business to provide agency workers to cover strike actions.

Mark has personally written to Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt, Met Police chief Cressida Dick, BEIS permeant secretary Alex Chisholm and BEIS minister Greg Clark, urging that these serious breaches be investigated and that ministers intervene to resolve these industrial disputes.

In his letter to Jeremy Hunt, Mark said: “Our members working for these private contractors at your departments are being treated in the most disgraceful manner on your watch. 

“They are facing the hardship of poverty through low pay, the indignity of their union having to provide foodbank facilities to prevent them from going hungry and they are now facing attempts to undermine their cause by a strike breaking operation bearing all the hallmarks of illegality.

“This disgraceful state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. This situation demands that you take responsibility for what is happening in your own workplaces and that you intervene to rectify matters.” 

PCS has also pointed out the following: 

  • If the employment business does in fact supply a worker with the necessary knowledge that this is to replace a worker taking part in industrial action, then the employer who commissioned the supply is likely to be guilty of a common law offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring that offence.
  • Prior to the supply of the workers, if the employer were to make arrangements for them to be supplied, he might be guilty of the offence of conspiracy contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 s 1.
  • Finally, there is the possibility of the employer committing one of the offences of encouraging the commission of a crime under the Serious Crime Act 2009 ss 44 and 45.

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