Logistics giant DHL has been accused of ‘wasting police time’ after claims that it called out hard-pressed officers on spurious grounds to the peaceful picket line of striking Liverpool delivery drivers and warehouse staff.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that the bosses at DHL Supply Chain had called out police ‘at least 10 times’ with multiple vehicles to the Portal Way site where its 120 members have been on strike since Saturday (19 December).

Unite said that the company had been abusing already stretched police resources which could be better used ensuring that Covid-19 regulations were adhered to and tackling the high crime levels in Croxeth area where the delivery centre is situated.

In November, striking workers at Leeds-based Optare bus manufacturer were moved on by the police, prompting Unite legal action that forced the government to issue guidance to police forces that workers can undertake socially distanced picketing during lockdown, as it is covered by the exception on the right to go to work.

Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said: “DHL bosses are wasting police time big-time. The management has called the police to an entirely peaceful picket line on at least 10 occasions since the strike started on Saturday.

“We have had visits by Merseyside Police with up to three police vehicles at a time. While relations are cordial and respectful, I am sure the people of Liverpool would question the misuse of resources sparked by DHL.

“DHL is abusing scarce police resources when the officers are under pressure over implementing Covid-19 regulations and the Croxeth area is suffering high levels of crime.

“DHL should respect the government guidelines issued to police forces last month that striking workers can undertake socially distanced picketing during lockdown, as it is covered by the exception on the right to go to work.

“DHL is flagrantly relying on police to try to break a lawful dispute. Of course, feelings are high and nobody wants to be on strike. However, I believe DHL has called the police without due cause and have alleged incidents that simply have not occurred in an attempt to discredit a peaceful picket line.

“It is a disgrace that police are used in this way by a company which thinks it can do what it likes to its low-paid workers - and misuses the police and taxpayers’ money in this cavalier fashion.

This is in no way a criticism of Merseyside Police, but a strong condemnation of the underhand tactics practised by DHL. We urge DHL to get around the table for constructive talks, rather than making spurious calls to the police.”

The 120 workers at the profitable Liverpool site, who undertake the Burton Biscuits (including Jammie Dodgers) and AB World Foods delivery contract, are striking in a dispute over low pay, victimisation of workers and the complete collapse of industrial relations.

Unite has announced eight 24-hours of strike action between 19 December and 5 January.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.