Royal Mail staff flout strike laws to show solidarity with disabled colleague

Around 80 Royal Mail staff in Bridgewater staged a wildcat strike yesterday over the treatment of a disabled worker.

The workers made a conscious decision yesterday to flout strike laws to support a fellow worker who they say has been prevented from working by the company.

Dave Chapple, who has worked for the Royal Mail for 37 years and is the local representative of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), said the company has placed constant obstacles to his colleague Andrew Mootoo, who has multiple sclerosis, returning to work.

"When Andrew was first diagnosed 18 months ago, they tried to pay him off but had to back down after we [the CWU] pointed out it was illegal." Chapple told

"Since then they've come up with every excuse you can think of to stall his return to work."

"What made this remarkable is that so many people walked out in solidarity with somebody they haven't even seen for 18 months. I've also received around 200 emails of support from fellow trade unionists and disabled people."

The action comes in the same week the government's controversial trade union bill had its third reading in the House of Commons.

This morning, the strikers returned to work after the Royal Mail reportedly made assurances they would sit down with Mootoo to find a solution.

Chapple said this shows how important it is for trade unionist to break strike laws where necessary but also highlights the difficulties some disabled people face in the workplace.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We can confirm that all staff have returned to work at Bridgwater Delivery Office this morning. Mail deliveries will be made in all parts of the TA5, TA6 and TA7 postcode areas today. We would like to apologise to customers for the disruption to service yesterday as a result of the unballoted industrial action. We have managerial resources in place today and we are focussed on delivering all mail as quickly as possible."