Amazon delivery companies challenged over workers’ rights
Delivery firms used by online retailer Amazon are facing a legal challenge over the employment rights offered to its workforce. The GMB union is taking action to force the companies into giving the army of delivery drivers entitlements such as the national minimum wage, sick and holiday pay.
The union has released a statement which calls into the question the “self-employed” status that Amazon places on the drivers. It reads: “The drivers were required to attend scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon, meaning they did not have the flexibility that is integral to being self-employed. In this situation, the couriers were treated like employees in terms of their working hours and the GMB union contends they should be treated as employees in terms of their rights too.”
The legal action is being taken by the GMB on behalf of members working for three different delivery companies and follows the much publicised and successful action taken against Uber in 2016, based on similar grounds.
To highlight the injustice, the testimony of an unnamed driver has been released, which states he would leave the house at six in the morning and not get home until eleven at night. For every parcel that went undelivered, £1 would be deducted from his wages. He was also told that he would not be paid if he failed to complete his route, which resulted in him driving “half asleep at the wheel” to ensure he did not lose out on his pay.
Further allegations are made by two more GMB members, who claim they were fired because of whistleblowing.
Speaking on the legal action, the general secretary of the GMB, Tim Roache, said: “Companies like Amazon and their delivery companies can’t have it both ways – they can’t decide they want all of the benefits of having an employee, but refuse to give those employees the pay and rights they’re entitled to.
“Guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick pay and pension contributions are not privileges companies can dish out when they fancy. They are the legal right of all UK workers, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to rule on.”