ParcelForced Labour?

If you open your door to a delivery man, you could be looking at a slave.

Cleaners and delivery drivers in the gig economy are being subject to financial penalties for not showing up for work – that’s beyond docking the pay for work not done: it’s a fine on top. According to the Guardian, for Parcelforce, part of the privatised Royal Mail Group, it can be £250 per day on top of the loss of £200  for a day not worked. However other companies, including DPD, have been accused of similar practices.

The practice must create tremendous pressure to go to work, even if you are sick or you have an important appointment. According to the ILO, “Forced labour refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.” Automatic fines of an amount greater than the daily wage would seem to qualify.

No doubt the practice is entirely legal, probably through contracting with the workers concerned on the basis that they take responsibility for providing a service. What they also take is all the risk. It is very far from a contract negotiated between equal parties.

Royal Mail Group’s most recent Modern Slavery Act statement, for some reason, makes no mention of the problem.


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