Unite slams DHL over Red Weather Violations

Unite Scotland have slammed DHL management for ‘flagrant breach of health and safety laws’, at the same time as an STUC survey showed 65% of workers were dissatisfied with their employers’ response to red weather conditions.

DHL came under particular fire as it was revealed that some depots maintained a no-show-no-pay policy despite weather posing a danger to life. Five drivers were forced to continue with deliveries all over Scotland, even though their deliveries were non-essential. They were trapped for 24 hours in standstill traffic jams and dangerous weather conditions.

Wendy Dunsmore Unite Regional officer said: “This is a flagrant breach of health and safety laws. The management concerned have ignored red and amber warnings. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that they were quite prepared to put lives in jeopardy by their insistence on deliveries. They were more concerned about protecting company profit than the well-being of staff. The senior executives at DHL need to sort this out.”

A survey by the STUC also revealed widespread exploitative working conditions - with 45% of respondents stating that they had been forced to travel during the red weather warnings. Those with access to a trade union rep were twice as satisfied with the response as those without - proving once again the essential part unions play in worker safety.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:“As our survey shows, the most effective way of ensuring employers guarantee the safety of the workforce is by giving workers an effective voice through trade unions. It is only through workers standing together that we can end unfair practices. We call on all workers who are not members of a trade union to join one today.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay has called for legislation to protect workers and guarantee full pay during red weather warnings, adding that he believed extreme weather might otherwise be used as an excuse to ‘discipline’ workers. The Scottish Government has agreed to develop a Fair Work Charter to protect workers during dangerous weather conditions, and has also urged all haulage companies to abide by Police Scotland warnings on severe weather.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard welcomed this development, stating: "Companies should not put profit before people at any time, and this is never truer than when lives could be at risk. Nor should workers, forced to stay at home because of the appalling weather conditions - as recommended by police for safety - be docked any wages or be made to use precious annual leave. Labour will engage constructively with the development of this charter so we don't see a repeat of these scenes again."

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