GMB slams Hermes over Christmas plans

GMB slams Hermes over Christmas plans

The GMB union has hit out at Hermes, with the claim that a leaked letter shows it is forcing couriers to work excessive hours and consecutive days in the run up to Christmas.

The company delivers parcels for the likes of Amazon UK, Next Directory, Cloggs Footwear, M&M Direct and J D Williams. GMB claims that it is attempting to make couriers work up to 21 days consecutively without a day off or no cover being provided. This is on top of long daily working hours. The union says it has written to Hermes, reminding them of their obligations to their employees of the Health & Safety Act 1974, and that couriers are also guided by Transport Act 1968 and the Working Time Regulations 1998. It has also advised Hermes that if they continue down this route, it will “take the strongest possible action in defence of our members.”

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, says: “Hermes has again taken the ‘ho ho’ out of their lifestyle couriers’ Christmases. The company has stated at two MP select committee hearings in 2017 that they have cover couriers. Yet the reality could not be different. If a lifestyle courier objects, or cannot provide their own cover, they are told by their Hermes field managers they will be penalised by having work withdrawn from them. It’s high time the Government took firms like Hermes to task and stop allowing such blatant avoidance of their obligations to provide safe services, and provide a duty of care to their workforce, other road users and the public.”

UPDATE: Hermes have got back to us with the following statement.

The GMB letter drafted ‘on behalf of Hermes’ self-employed couriers’ is full of inaccuracies. No courier is expected to work longer hours, more days or handle bigger volumes – and there is absolutely no penalty for choosing not to do so. It is entirely unfounded and totally irresponsible to suggest that Hermes would require or encourage couriers to put themselves or the public at risk.

Couriers are free to choose whether they want to provide a service on either Sunday, as they are at all times. If they choose to work the additional two Sundays or choose to provide a substitute, Hermes will pay an extra £20 per round per Sunday for successful delivery. This has been well received by the courier network. Field Managers will work closely with couriers to organise cover for those two Sundays, should the courier not wish to take on the additional work themselves. They will use an existing cover list of 4,500 couriers, as well as the pool of the extra 6,000 relief couriers that will be in place for the peak period.  

Last year, nearly two thirds of round holders chose not to provide services on all 21 days during this period, proving this is clearly optional. It has been clearly communicated that providing a service on either Sunday, 26th November or Sunday, 3rd December is completely optional. There is absolutely no penalty for not doing so

Our self-employed couriers enjoy earnings well in excess of the national minimum wage. In fact we have set our minimum standard at £8.50 per hour, taking into account any expenses the couriers may accrue. We are confident in the accuracy of our courier pay model and our records clearly show that our average courier rate is £10.60, 41% above the national minimum wage, after all legitimate expenses have been deducted. This has been verified using real time data gathered from a significant sample of rounds, supported by route modelling.

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