GMB takes on Amazon over delivery drivers

The GMB union has launched a legal claim against UK Express arguing that its drivers should be classed as employed rather than self employed. UK Express make deliveries for Amazon.

The GMB has released a statement saying that the claim “aims to tackle the growing trend of bogus self-employment and gig economy exploitation”. It follows on from the GMB’s action against Uber in October and a case newly launched against DX.

UK Express has its headquarters in Birmingham but is currently advertising for drivers in Manchester, Grimsby, Swindon, Derby, Leeds, Penrith, Hull, Exeter, Blackburn, Carlisle, Bristol, Bradford, Crewe, Hartlepool, Scarborough, Nottingham, Scunthorpe, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Kendal, Lincoln and Sunderland.

The statement from the union said: “GMB believes that UK Express drivers fall into the same category as Uber drivers, in that although they currently have ‘self-employed’ status, they should actually be classed as workers.

“The distinction is important because workers are entitled to basic employment rights such as minimum wage, holiday or sick pay.

“People working as self-employed are not.”

The union statement continued: “GMB has taken the legal cases on behalf of members who deliver for Amazon, contending that the drivers should be classed as workers, meaning they would be legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave per year, the National Minimum Wage at £7.20 per hour for over 25s, increasing to £7.50 from April 2017, paid rest breaks and whistleblower protection.

“GMB claim that Amazon drivers are workers, and potentially employees, on the ground that:

· Amazon impose control on drivers relating to routes, sanction them for ‘poor performance’ and require them to pay for a van hired from the company

· Amazon Logistics require the drivers to be available for 15 days per month

· Limited right of substitution – money is deducted from a driver’s pay if they cannot work

· Drivers all prohibited from working for a competitor.”

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, commented: “This is another case in a long line of legal battles around bogus self-employment.

“Employers might not like paying the Minimum Wage or giving their workers the protections they’re entitled to in the workplace, but I’m afraid it’s not optional. UK Express deliver for some of the world’s largest companies, in this case Amazon.

“The drivers delivering for Amazon – like Uber drivers and delivery drivers for DX – cannot be classed as anything other than employed when you look at the law.”

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, added: “UK Express is paid by Amazon to deliver its parcels. We believe Amazon should require its contractors to provide workers with their legal entitlements, including paid holiday and National Minimum Wage, and to stop fining staff if they are unable to work.”
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