GMB has announced it will be taking legal action against three Amazon delivery companies on the charge of bogus self-employment.
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. The legal action being taken by GMB is on behalf of members working for Prospect Commercials Limited, Box Group Limited and Lloyd Link Logistics Limited. The claimants all worked for the companies as couriers, delivering parcels for Amazon.
GMB say the drivers were employees, and the companies used a bogus self-employment model to wrongly deny them employment rights, such as the national minimum wage and holiday pay. The drivers were required to attend scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon, meaning that they did not have the flexibility integral to being self-employed. In this situation, the couriers were treated like employees in terms of their working hours, thus GMB Union contends they should be treated as employees in terms of their rights too.
Two of the members are also claiming that they were dismissed because of whistleblowing, saying that their roles were terminated because they raised concerns about working practices. These concerns included the number of parcels allocated to drivers resulted in excessive hours and/or driving unsafely to meet targets; being expected to wait a significant time to load their vans, thus extending their working hours; being expected to drive while tired, which posed a threat to their safety and other road users; being underpaid and not being paid amounts that they were contractually entitled to.
These whistleblowing claims are also being brought directly against Amazon on the basis that it was Amazon who determined the way that the drivers should work.
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “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.
“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. 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.
“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.”