Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Freight and Logistics Group DHL Comes in for Another Attack After ChickenGate

More Trade Union Accusations as Staff Laid Off
Shipping News Feature
UK – Nothing seems to be going right this month for logistics outfit DHL. Having suffered the 'ChickenGate' fiasco in which the company, having taken over the contract to deliver basic supplies to Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets, failed dismally causing the majority of stores to close, now the freight and parcels delivery company has once again been attacked for alleged unfair industrial practices.

Last week DHL was severely criticised by the GMB Union for its attitude toward KFC staff left without work who were simply told to take holiday leave, with the GMB saying DHL should make up the shortfall in wages. Now it says up to 140 workers employed on the O2 contract at a DHL site in Normanton face the sack, this despite the fact that it claims many were set to receive historical enhanced redundancy rights from the time they worked for original contract holders, freight group Tibbet & Britten.

Under Britain’s Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) workers who transfer over to a new contract holder under a ‘service provision transfer’ receive equal pay and conditions from the incoming contractor provided they have fulfilled the relevant requirements. The GMB is accusing DHL, together with incoming company Brightstar, which took the contract from DHL, of reneging on the TUPE arrangements leaving workers thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Brightstar, a US owned company is basing the contract in Crewe, almost 100 miles from the current site, and DHL claim that existing staff might have the opportunity of working there, something derided by workers. DHL said it did not recognise trade unions at the Normanton site but would be speaking to staff through its Joint Consultative Committee. A DHL spokeswoman said:

“Affected staff have been informed of the situation and will shortly enter into consultation with the company to discuss the implications of today’s announcement. “The decision has been taken for commercial reasons and in no way reflects on the quality of service provided. We thank staff for their continued support at this difficult time. We have other customer accounts on site which are unaffected by this week’s announcement.”

The GMB, which has often criticised DHL in the past, has spoken to local Labour MP, Yvette Cooper, who has offered her support to fight for the workers and their rights and commented that she would be speaking to O2, owned by Spanish multi-national Telefonica, DHL and government ministers about the situation. Andrew Aldwinkle, GMB Organiser, said:

“These workers have shown nothing but loyalty to DHL and are now being thrown out of their jobs through no fault of their own. DHL are really doing the dirty on these workers, because if that wasn’t bad enough, they have now been told they will not receive their full redundancy package.

“It is an absolute disgrace, GMB is calling upon DHL to ensure that not one single worker misses out on enhanced redundancy pay. DHL are coming under increased scrutiny and are getting a reputation for the shoddy way they treat their employees. This is a chance for them to get some positive publicity and do the right thing."

DHL, owned by German goliath Deutsche Post, certainly has a history of upsetting workers and being accused of poor industrial relations. The Handy Shipping Guide’s own comment facility had to be closed down some years ago following a tirade of hate mail aimed at the company’s US operations after we published an article detailing the company’s new investment in Cincinnati, two years after it allegedly sacked 8,000 workers and closed its Wilmington hub.

Since that time there has been a continuous stream of accusations from around the world about its treatment of staff, not often however in the group’s home territory of Germany where demonstrations at the AGMs have become the norm. Deutsche Post DHL CEO Frank Appel has been frequently attacked by unions worldwide for promising much and delivering little at these gatherings and, somewhat ironically, recently saw an interview ‘How I Motivate a Workforce’ published in the Financial Times.

Photo: Happier days. In 2008 the DHL site at Normanton was the first company location to attain 100% carbon neutrality and boasted 99% staff retention and 99.98% stock accuracy on 18 million items shipped.