04 June 2018
GMB has announced it is taking legal action against three Amazon delivery firms, which it believes are misclassifying couriers as independent contractors and thus depriving them of workers’ rights.
As drivers for firms delivering Amazon packages are expected to stick to scheduled shifts controlled by Amazon, the union argues that this constitutes the relationship between a manager and a worker and the drivers should therefore be eligible for the rights that workers are entitled to.
“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,” General Secretary of GMB, Tim Roache, said.
“Guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick pay, 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.”
The firms facing legal challenges are Prospect Commercials Limited, Box Group Limited and Lloyd Link Logistics Limited.
In a separate case being brought against Amazon, GMB will fight for two workers who believe they were dismissed for blowing the whistle on dangerous working practices. These included drivers being forced to spend excessive hours on the road to meet targets, and therefore having to drive tired and put themselves and other road users at risk.
The whistleblowers also raised complaints about unfair working practices, such as drivers’ working hours being extended by the significant amount of time they were expected to wait before loading their vans, and underpayment of contractually agreed rates.
“Amazon is a global company that makes billions. It’s absolutely galling that they refuse to afford the people who make that money for them even the most basic rights, pay and respect,” Tim Roache said.
“The day to day reality for many of our members who deliver packages for Amazon, is unrealistic targets, slogging their guts out only to have deductions made from their pay when those targets aren’t met and being told they’re self-employed without the freedom that affords.”