The GMB is taking legal action on behalf of members working for three delivery firms used by Amazon. The union is demanding gig economy drivers get better employment rights, including sick pay, holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
The case is the latest in a series of gig economy legal cases brought by the union since it won the landmark judgement against Uber in 2016. Other companies including Deliveroo, Addison Lee and CityLink are all also involved in ongoing legal action.
The case is currently being handled by solicitors Leigh Day. It is reported seven drivers, including two who have been dismissed, are involved in the claim and this figure is set to increase.
Prospect Commercials, Box Group and Lloyd Link Logistics, who now face legal action, have used the self-employment model to wrongly deny the drivers’ rights. The GMB says couriers are treated like employees and should therefore receive the same benefits.
A statement released from the union stated: “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 GMB union believes the American electronic commerce and cloud computing company determined how the drivers worked. The couriers said they were dismissed for whistleblowing their concerns on working practices. A claim they made against Amazon was that the number of parcels distributed to the drivers could lead to working excessive hours and driving unsafely to meet targets. One driver is reported to have been told by his employer to complete a route when he was “half asleep at the wheel” however, he was determined to finish it so he could get paid.
Another unethical working practice made by Amazon is to not pay the drivers the correct amounts they were contractually entitled to. Adding to this was the revelation that for every undelivered parcel, £1 would be taken from the driver’s wages. A driver involved in the case informed the GMB how he left to go to work at 6am and didn’t finish his shift till 11pm and still had undelivered parcels.
Tim Roache, GMB general secretary stated: “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”.
Jeremy Coye, associate at Russell-Cooke solicitors, added: “There is a misconception that labelling staff as self-employed and paying them without deducting tax will ensure that they do not acquire the rights of workers of employees. This is not the case. What is important is the nature of the relationship between the organisation and the individual”.
An Amazon representative said the company expects its delivery firms to pay their drivers a minimum of £12 an hour, as well as “follow[ing] all applicable laws and driving regulations and drive safely”.
Click here to read “Hermes faces new gig economy legal challenge over worker rights”.
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