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Boycott call as Asos toss out drivers

Union hits out at online fashion chain for abandoning brave delivery workers in the middle of a pandemic to save on sick pay

WORKERS called for a boycott of Asos today after the online fashion retailer thanked its delivery drivers for continuing to work through a pandemic by making them redundant.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says Asos is switching its transport contractor, which employs the delivery drivers, from Menzies to rival companies DPD and Hermes.

The union has accused Asos and the delivery giants of effectively reneging on guarantees to protect jobs, with 70 earmarked for the scrap heap.

The IWGB said Asos had been involved in “a clear case of corporate collusion in an attempt to circumvent the workers’ legal protections” through contracted firms it uses to deliver its goods.

The union calculates that the move to ditch up to 70 employees and switch to DPD will save Asos between 25 and 50 per cent on costs by allowing it to dodge payment of statutory obligations such as sick pay, holiday pay and parental leave.

IWGB vice president Max Dewhurst said: “Even during this horrific pandemic Asos, DPD and Hermes are undermining the basic rights of drivers who, like many key workers, clock in every day to keep the country running at considerable risk to their health.

"Now more than ever, they need and deserve financial security and respect for their basic employment rights.”

Delivery driver Jakaria Khan said: “We’re being chucked on the scrap heap.

"Our jobs were supposed to be safe. We were promised a transfer to DPD, but now we’re all going to be made redundant, with no hope of future employment. We are facing the abyss, mid-pandemic.”

IWGB called for an immediate boycott of Asos today, continuing to April 30 when the redundancies are due to take effect.

GMB, which is organising Asos warehouse workers, also criticised the company today for forcing them to keep working at the firm’s giant warehouse in Yorkshire despite risks of infection from the virus.

The union, which is recruiting among the 4,000-strong workforce at Asos’s warehouse on the site of the former Grimethorpe colliery outside Barnsley, South Yorkshire, accused the company of “revelling in extravagant profits while workers risk their safety to keep the empire afloat.”

Asos has remained open throughout the coronavirus crisis and has recorded more than £30 million in profit, the GMB said.

Workers say they are "like rats" trapped in a "cradle of disease," the union reported.

GMB Yorkshire regional secretary Neil Derrick said: “While competitors have closed their doors where they could not keep their workers safe, Asos has seen coronavirus as a business opportunity and stayed open for a flash sale.

“But while fat cats take the profits the people who keep their empire afloat are risking their safety.

“This is hardly ethical business — putting profits before people.

“Asos needs to do the decent thing — if it can’t keep people safe it must close its doors and take advantage of the government’s 80 per cent furlough scheme.

“The company says they want to do the right thing — now is the time to actually do it.”

Asos declined to comment on the contractors’ drivers issue “as legal responsibility for this does not sit with us, but with our outgoing supplier, Menzies, and our incoming suppliers, DPD and Hermes.”

The company also insists it does not put profits before people.

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