Socialist Worker

DPD drivers are unionising to deliver better conditions

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2591

Striking at a DPD parcel sorting hub in Leicestershire last year

Striking at a DPD parcel sorting hub in Leicestershire last year


At the DPD delivery firm where a driver died recently workers are organising to win change.

Driver Don Lane died of diabetes aged 53. His widow Ruth said he missed three hospital appointments after DPD fined him £150 for attending previously.

Ruth described DPD as “abrupt, cold, horrible and uncaring”.

The company threw an executive party the day after Don’s funeral. Attended by 1,000 people and costing £1 million, it featured free food, drink and entertainment.

Socialist Worker spoke to DPD driver Alex about the policies at the firm which contributed to Don’s death.

Penalised

“If workers miss a day due to being ill they are out of pocket twice,” explained Alex.

They are not paid sick pay and on top of that they have to pay for someone to cover their route for the day.

And workers aren’t only penalised when they are sick.

People who receive things by package will be familiar with a one-hour window for your delivery. Within that hour workers have to make as many as nine other deliveries.

“If you fall outside of the delivery window, the next day you can go to work and you are sent home,” said Alex. “You are charged the £150.”

Alex described how this can be used as an unofficial disciplinary measure by bosses to force drivers to work harder.

“You might deliver 80 parcels in a shift,” he said. “Anything over that is overtime. But for every parcel we deliver after 80 the company takes away 50p from your delivery rate.

Argument

“If you say you can’t take the extra stops you know there’s going to be an argument between you and the manager.”

Last week the government published its response to the Taylor Review into employment. It was touted as a crackdown on bogus self-employment but offers no solutions.

DPD classes its drivers as self-employed. But Alex said, “They are telling you what to do, how to go about your work. You don’t have any say.”

He said that drivers receive just ten days unpaid holiday a year.

But workers are getting organised and have joined the GMB union. Despite the difficulties, “quite a few” people have joined the union, including workers at Alex’s depot who are getting others involved.

“People see DPD on the outside of the van but don’t understand the stress going on,” he said. “The shift managers get in your face.

“Some have no respect, they think it’s a military camp.”

The firm’s obscene boast is that its workers have the company’s “unique DNA”. Don Lane died because of DPD’s DNA. Workers need everyone’s support to fight back.


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