UK affiliate GMB has scored another groundbreaking victory against national logistics company, UK Express, for workers delivering for Amazon. UKXD has agreed to settle claims at 100% rather than risk court hearings and further claims.
GMB brought claims asserting that like Uber, Hermes and other drivers, UK Express drivers are wrongly defined as ‘self-employed’.
GMB argues that the terms of UKXD drivers’ contracts and the way in which they work (solely delivering for Amazon) demonstrate that they should actually be classed as employees on the grounds that:
- Amazon impose control on drivers relating to routes, sanction them for ‘poor performance’ and require them to pay for van hire from the company.
- The drivers were required to be available for 15 days per month – there was no right of substitution – in fact money was deducted from a driver’s pay if they cannot work.
- Drivers are prohibited from working for a competitor.
As employees, the drivers would be legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave per year, the National Minimum Wage of £7.50 per hour, paid rest breaks and protection from unfair dismissal, discrimination and for whistleblowing. People classified as self-employed are not entitled to any of these rights.
It appears that UKXD bowed to the inevitable as the company offered a 100% settlement to the drivers in order to stop their claims. This has resulted in some employees receiving almost £20,000 in back pay.
This case is the latest in a series of employment cases that trying to tackle the growing trend of bogus self-employment and gig economy exploitation.
In October 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are classed as workers, are entitled to basic workers’ rights and that the company was wrong to label them as self- employed.
Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, who represents GMB on the European stage, stated:
“This great news for workers in Europe, Especially those caught in the mire of the, as of yet, unregulated gig economy. It is a victory in the battle against bogus self-employment, unfair working practices and substandard wages.
Amazon and UKXD thought they could avoid paying the minimum wage, or protecting their workers. However, as this case proves, workers rights not optional – they’re the law.
We will continue to fight, alongside our European affiliates, until each and every employee across Europe is fairly treated and rightly paid.”