Amazon taken to court by GMB over rights of delivery drivers

Amazon’s delivery drivers have taken legal action against the online retail giant in an effort to secure better employment rights.

In the latest landmark gig economy legal challenge, workers’ union GMB has challenged Amazon over their classification of their delivery drivers as self-employed.

The GMB announced this morning it was representing three separate delivery firms used by Amazon, arguing that as the “drivers were required to attend scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon”, this meant that they did not have the same flexibility that a self-employed driver would.

A GMB spokesperson added: “In this situation, the couriers were treated like employees in terms of their working hours and the GMB union contends they should be treated as employees in terms of their rights too.”

According to Nigel Mackay, partner at law firm Leigh Day which is handling the case, seven drivers are currently involved in the claim, with more expected to join in the future.

Two of the drivers involved in the case have been dismissed by Amazon and both have alleged that this was due to raising concerns about working practices.

The issues raised by the drivers include being forced to work excessive hours and drive unsafely to meet “unrealistic targets”.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “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.”

In 2016 the GMB won a similar case against Uber, in which it was rules that the taxi firm must class all drivers as workers and pay them the minimum wage.

It also is currently involved in ongoing legal action against Deliveroo, Addison Lee and City Sprint.

In response to the legal challenge, Amazon has said the delivery providers used have signed contracts requiring them to pay the minimum wage and follow all driving safety laws.

A spokesperson added: “Allegations to the contrary do not represent the great work done by around 100 small businesses generating thousands of work opportunities for delivery drivers across the UK.

“Amazon is proud to offer a wide variety of work opportunities across Britain – full-time or part-time employment, or be your own boss.

“Last year we created 5000 new permanent jobs on top of thousands of opportunities for people to work independently with the choice and flexibility of being their own boss – either through Amazon Logistics, Amazon Flex, or Amazon Marketplace.”

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