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THE GMB union declared war on one of the world’s largest companies today, announcing it will drag three Amazon delivery firms to court on charges of bogus self-employment.
The union, which organises workers in the “gig economy”, announced at its annual conference in Brighton that it is launching legal action against companies working for the delivery giant.
The case is on behalf of GMB members working as parcel couriers for Amazon, who are formally employed by Prospect Commercials Ltd, Box Group Ltd and Lloyd Link Logistics Ltd.
The union says that, although the couriers were employees, the three companies used the model of “bogus self-employment” to deny workers the right to the national minimum wage and holiday pay.
The couriers attended scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon, which GMB says means that they did not have the flexibility that is integral to being self-employed.
In this situation, the couriers had working hours that the GMB believes shows convincingly that they were workers. The union is now pushing for the three firms to grant the workers their proper employment rights.
The union has also highlighted other poor labour practices, such as drivers being regularly underpaid for their actual hours worked and workplace victimisation.
This is the latest in a series of legal cases related to “gig economy” workers brought by the GMB, which won significant victories against taxi service Uber in 2016 and 2017.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said that he found it “absolutely galling” that Amazon refuses to guarantee “basic rights” for couriers.
“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."
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