Fostering Worker’s representation in Logistics – the case of subcontracting


Post & Logistics

Fostering Worker’s representation in Logistics – the case of subcontracting

UNI Europa Post & Logistics finalised the “Fostering Worker’s representation in Logistics – the case of subcontracting” project. The project received the financial support of the European Commission.

The project aimed at deriving better representation of logistics workers at all levels and at the improvement of employment and service quality in the parcel delivery industry. It strengthened the established Trade Union Alliances in two multinational companies in the Courier Express and Parcels (CEP) industry to drive worker representation forward: Deutsche Post DHL and DPD GeoPost. The project also strengthened the capacity of UNI Europa Post & Logistics to engage in effective industrial relations in the CEP industry, notably by strengthening worker representation in existing Information and Consultation Processes (ICP) structures. The project also addressed e-Commerce related parcel delivery activities of CEP multinational companies and analysed the impact of digitalisation on the jobs, competences, and work organisation patterns in parcel delivery, in particular the use and prevalence of subcontracting. The project implemented a systemic analysis of the recourse to sub-contracting, the use of part-time, zero hour contracts, self-employment and temporary agency workers and platforms in last-mile delivery. The project also devised trade union strategies to limit the recourse to such practices in the concerned multinational companies.

The project improved the cooperation between European Works Council (EWC) members and workers representatives on one hand and trade unions on the other. The project provided research and information about the industry to the EWC members, the worker representatives and the trade unions. The trade union alliances meetings in these two companies served to disseminate the establishment of trade union alliances as a good practice for other companies. A network meeting for trade union in delivery multinational companies enabled project participants to devise and agree action measures for better representation of logistics workers at all levels.

UNI Europa Post & Logistics is particularly interested in the courier express and parcels industry because of the increasing importance of e-Commerce for the European economy. The project enabled to engage transnational and European trade union coordination for the CEP sector. Through the project, trade unions e Trade Union Network Meeting for Delivery multinational companies to promote trade union transnational cooperation in the Logistics’ sector. Project stakeholders formulated trade union responses to the increasing cross-border parcel delivery activities by supporting the establishment of structural changes to ensure and strengthen worker representation at European level both within the established ICP structures of the multinational companies and the established Social Dialogue Committee for the sector.

The staged Trade Union Alliance meetings offered the participants the opportunity to exchange experiences and practices within the selected multinational companies and to create transnational trade union power to develop and enhance the effectiveness of the established trade union alliance. The scope of the Trade Union Alliances meetings was to enhance the capacity of members of EWCs, Trade Union Alliances members and workers representatives to build power in the selected Logistics’ multinational companies. The Trade Union Alliance meetings addressed topics that could be the subject of dialogue at transnational and company level, such as: digitalisation, outsourcing, subcontracting, introduction of new technologies, skills need, digitalisation, automation, artificial intelligence, health and safety etc.

The project enabled the staging of the Trade Union Network Meeting for Delivery multinational companies bringing together key stakeholder trade unions in the Logistics industry as well as high-level multinational companies representatives, thereby advancing transnational negotiations at company level, notably on digitalisation and its impact on working conditions. This permitted to elaborate adequate responses by trade unions within established labour relation structures to address the shifting definition of the logistics sector given the increasing importance of e-Commerce parcel delivery.

In addition to high-level representatives of the two concerned multinational companies, the Trade Union Network Meeting for Delivery multinational companies enabled Trade Union Alliances stakeholders to also address the operations of Amazon in the e-Commerce parcel delivery sector for the two multinational companies. The meetings addressed the topic of outsourcing / subcontracting to see if there are common patterns across the industry and to advance on the topic at company level. Importantly and given the increase of cross-border parcels delivery due to the growth of e-Commerce, all the staged meetings looked at the challenges from a trade union perspective of e-Commerce parcel delivery. The meetings were dedicated to trade union organising, networking and data collection to address the digital environment of parcel delivery and its occupational health and safety implications. Steps were taken to address the topic of subcontracting / outsourcing to meet flexibility requirements of digitalisation in e-Commerce parcel delivery, which is a common issue of concern throughout the Logistics’ industry.

The project delivered on the following results:

  1. Better representation of logistics workers through a knowledge-based and coordinated approach on the employment structure of the last-mile delivery and the impact of digitalisation.
  2. The enlargement and strengthening of workers’ representatives in logistics through the involvement and coordinated cooperation of more trade unions especially from Central and Eastern Europe and from countries which are not yet included, workers representatives from new multinational companies, EWCs, national works councils, experts and by addressing new topics.
  3. To influence national and international policies and legislations regulating the logistics services and to improve the situation of logistics workers by for example fulfilling the reporting obligations of the cross-border parcel delivery Regulation or by influencing companies’ decisions to improve the service quality by high quality employment taking into account the recent developments regarding digitalisation and last-mile delivery business models. The project enabled to monitor multinational companies’ strategies on digitalisation to engage a discussion on outsourcing or sub-contracting and the use of self-employed drivers.
  4. To improve the role of UNI Europa Post & Logistics on European level within multinational companies and European institutions by improving its role as coordinator of alliances and EWCs in the logistics industry and by extending the role within the European social dialogue by representing and including the view of logistics workers.

The project brought added value as it fostered the international relationships of UNI Post & Logistics with two Multinational Companies and enabled the strengthening of international trade union representation as part of the established Trade Union Alliances and engaged participants on new forms of work, notably platform work. The project overall ensured better worker representation in the CEP industry also holding a multiplier effect as these good practices can inspire the establishment of additional Trade Union Alliances in the sector.

During the Trade Union Network Meeting for Delivery multinational companies, project participants agreed the following Action Points to further the cooperation of trade unions and foster worker representation in Logistics:

  1. Pursue the ITF/UNI cooperation on key Multinationals within the Global Delivery Meeting.
  2. Continue strengthening Trade Union Alliances in key Multinationals. Look at possibilities to have more joint global agreements with Multinationals and improve existing Agreements.
  3. Pursue the cooperation and research on Due Diligence (including the environmental issues) and derive structured action as part of Due Diligence Global Union Federations efforts.
  4. Coordinate efforts to address Subcontracting/Outsourcing/Externalisations of the Delivery Supply Chains to drive collective bargaining coverage forward and lift the terms and conditions of all workers in Multinationals (not just Direct Employees).
  5. Further deepen the cooperation with the ILO to ensure the implementation of ILO core conventions and the newly adopted C190 on harassment at work throughout the world.   

All documents produced through the project can be found here

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