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THE government has failed to act over “Dickensian” working conditions for delivery drivers, Labour said yesterday.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey was responding to an investigation by the Sunday Mirror which found that employees for Amazon have to deliver up to 200 parcels a day while earning less than the minimum wage.
Speaking in the Commons, she said: “As yet another high-profile employment case emerges, why is the government not taking robust action to crack down on bogus self-employment and enforce employment rights?”
She described drivers’ schedules as “impossible,” leaving little or no time for breaks, and pointed out that they do not get holiday or sick pay.
The Labour frontbencher accused the government of failing to act after Business Minister Margot James cited the recent review of modern working practices led by Matthew Taylor when asked about its response to bogus self-employment.
Ms James added that employment practices such as those described for the delivery drivers should be “roundly condemned.”
But Ms Bailey accused the Tories of “hiding behind its forthcoming response to the Taylor review.”
She added: “Sir David Metcalf, the government’s director of labour market enforcement, stated this year that even the government’s existing powers had not been used to protect workers, despite numerous official statements that it has taken abuse by employers seriously.”
The Taylor review has been widely condemned for its use of the term “dependent contractor” rather than “employee” despite high-profile court cases involving Pimlico Plumbers and Uber ruling that their workers are employees and not self-employed.
An Amazon spokesman said it was “committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers are fairly compensated, treated with respect, follow all applicable laws and driving regulations and drive safely.”
It added that its delivery providers are expected to ensure drivers receive a minimum £12 per hour before deductions and excluding bonuses, incentives and fuel reimbursements.
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