https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... -rate-cuts
Drivers to also strike in memory of Don Lane who died after the peak delivery season last year
Parcel couriers are planning to boycott deliveries on the busiest online shopping weekend of the year in protest against rate cuts and in memory of Don Lane– a DPD courier who died after collapsing during the peak delivery season last Christmas.
More than 50 drivers operating for DPD in Glasgow will stop work on Saturday and Sunday in a “cyber weekend” industrial action organised by the GMB union. Britons were predicted to spend more than £1.5bn online on Friday – an increase of 13% on last year.
The action is aimed at highlighting ongoing grievances among gig economy workers, on whom millions of shoppers rely. GMB has threatened further stoppages later in the season at other DPD depots nationwide.
The strain on couriers was exposed in January when Lane died after missing specialist medical appointments to treat his diabetes because he was afraid of being charged £150 for not working.
Lane’s widow, Ruth, plans to take DPD to an employment tribunal on behalf of her husband, but needs to raise a legal fund to challenge the company, which made £121m profit last year and has hired a leading employment law QC to defend itself. She has been asking members of the public to contribute to an online appeal to fund a barrister because legal aid is not available to her and she cannot afford the fees.
DPD drivers are paid per delivery and those at the firm’s Cambuslang depot in Glasgow said their rates had been cut this year. In recent months, some said, they had been sent home from work without pay because there was insufficient work. Some have complained of extremely long working days, with some deliveries being scheduled for after midnight.
The majority of the drivers at the depot were expected to join the boycott, said GMB’s Scotland organiser, Cal Waterson.
“This weekend marks the start of the Christmas delivery onslaught when the company is deluged by parcel delivery requests following Black Friday,” he said. “Rates have been cut again this year and contracts amended to give the company the right to review rates every six months.”
The DPD chief executive, Dwain McDonald, has asked drivers to commit to making an extra 10 deliveries a day in what he called “the big push” and asked them all to work this weekend.
The GMB said drivers were also protesting against DPD’s code of conduct, which penalises drivers for supposed infringements of company policy and which can lead to the termination of their contracts when they reach the target of 21 points.
“There is no appeals procedure and no right to representation,” Waterson said.
DPD, which has yet to respond to a request for comment, is one of the biggest courier companies in the UK which rely on self-employed drivers. After several employment tribunal cases ruled against other companies in the gig economy, which involves an estimated 1.1 million workers, and a Downing Street-commissioned report proposed reforms to the gig economy, DPD promised to make employment contracts available to couriers who no longer wanted to be franchisees.
The GMB, which represents some DPD couriers, said contracts providing worker status – which requires the payment of the minimum wage and holiday pay – had not always been delivered.
Hermes, which uses 14,500 couriers to deliver goods for some of the biggest retailers, lost an employment tribunal case in June in which a judge ruled some of its couriers should be classed as workers and therefore entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay.
Nearly 400m parcels are expected to be delivered in the UK in November and December – a quarter of the annual total.