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Workers slam parcel giant's new points-based disciplinary system brought in after courier died

17 Feb 2019, 08:20

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scot ... w-14010193

DPD was forced to review its practices after the death of Don Lane, but some drivers say the new system is worse.

Parcel giant DPD has been accused of using an unfair points-based disciplinary system to sack drivers.

The firm was forced to review its practices after the death of employee Don Lane, who cancelled meetings with kidney specialists over fears he would be fined £150 for attending a hospital appointment.


But scores of drivers say a new system subsequently introduced is even worse.

DPD drivers who make mistakes or don’t turn up for work are now given points. If they tot up 21 points, their contracts are terminated.

Employment specialists Leigh Day are pursuing unfair dismissal claims for eight Scottish workers who are part of a class action involving 76 cases due to be heard at a tribunal in Cardiff.

The firm’s Nigel Mackay said: “This points-based system is not recognised in employment law as being enough for someone to lose their job if the points have been given for trivial reasons.



“Some are getting points for being unable to make work.

“There are also concerns DPD isn’t going through the correct procedures when they dismiss drivers.”

The couriers claim that as well as getting points for minor mistakes, they have been targeted because they are members of a union and previously earned high wages with DPD.

They include father of two David Hart, 32.

The ex-soldier, of East Kilbride, said he was fired two days after his son Alfie was born last month.

David, who worked for the firm for two years, claims he was given seven points for failing to fix his vehicle within 21 days.

He said: “I had a minor problem with my van, some damage to the bodywork.

“It didn’t affect the van but DPD said it was a bad look for its corporate image. I had to pay for it.

“The damage only happened because I got sent out to make deliveries in bad snow in November and bumped it.

“I didn’t get it fixed as quickly as I should but it was in the lead-up to Christmas and they didn’t want me to take the van off the road.

“I also got some points for failing to get signatures for some parcels.”

David added: “DPD didn’t give me any paternity leave as I was a self-employed driver.

“I was back at work the day after my son was born. He was a breech birth and it was a stressful time but I was expected back in.

“The day after that, I was ‘stood down’ – that’s where they text you the morning you’re meant to work to tell you not to as there isn’t enough work.

“Two days later, I got told I was being let go. They said I’d gone over the 21 point threshold.”

Other drivers say they worked through ill-health for DPD but have still been let go.

Like Don, Paul McCormack, 42, who was based at DPD’s Eurocentral base in Lanarkshire, has diabetes.

He was also diagnosed with blood cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – six years ago and has worked as a self-employed driver with DPD for the past four.

Paul had his driving licence suspended by the DVLA after he missed a series of hospital appointments. Doctors called the vehicle authority over fears he was unfit to drive.

When he got back on the road, Paul was sacked after an alleged altercation with another motorist, despite having no points on his record.

The dad-of-two said: “I had my licence suspended for a while last year because of my diabetes.

“I missed hospital appointments because I didn’t want fined.

“I had to pay someone to do my routes but it ended up costing me money.

“I’d previously been paid pretty well. When I went back to driving, my route was changed and they said I would get paid less per parcel.

“I said I wouldn’t accept it as it was a 20 per cent pay cut. That’s when they told me my contract was being terminated as a motorist had complained about my driving. But it was just the motorist’s word against mine – there was no evidence to support the claims.”

Former managers at DPD say bosses at the French-owned parcel firm, whose profits were £143million last year, would target drivers to reduce staff costs.

One unnamed former senior manager said: “We were told we had to ‘starve' drivers out the door.

“They take on staff for peak Christmas time and then come January, each depot has a specific number of drivers they are told to get rid of.

“High earners are top of the lists. You’d try to find something they’d done wrong or stand them down until it sickened them.

“Some of the points that are being handed out are highly questionable.”

A third driver, Paul McDougall, said he was sacked by DPD for sending a WhatsApp message that bosses wrongly claimed was a jibe at a manager.

Self-employed drivers make up about 80 per cent of DPD’s estimated 600 Scottish couriers. They are paid more to deliver parcels than drivers directly employed by DPD. But they don’t qualify for sick pay, pensions or other benefits.

Cal Waterson, GMB Scotland Organiser, said: “After Don Lane’s death, the company made many promises, few of which have materialised. Instead, drivers have been fed lies and half- truths. There is clear evidence that some drivers are failing to even earn the minimum wage.

“Several have been unfairly dismissed after the introduction of a ‘fair and transparent’ driver code which allows depot managers to dishonestly invoke penalty points on drivers for imagined breaches of contract.


“GMB has lodged claims for unfair and constructive dismissal on behalf of members in Scotland and expect that more will follow.”

A spokesman for DPD said all three drivers had their contracts terminated for “serious” misconduct.


He added: “DPD is a successful business, growing year on year and we pride ourselves on our award-winning customer service. We are not looking to cut costs or reduce the number of drivers.

“Our priority is to protect our customers, the parcel recipients on the doorstep, other road users and other members of the DPD team.

“As a result, we do not tolerate anyone who displays seriously abusive, aggressive or fraudulent behaviour and we have very clear processes for dealing with such cases.”

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