Dignity for logistics workers is 2022’s best Black Friday deal

24 Nov 2022

Unions are ready to negotiate, but are e-commerce companies ready? This year’s best Black Friday deal would be one where e-commerce companies sit down and talk to unions about providing dignity at work for the millions of warehouse and delivery workers working around the clock this 25 November.

Tomorrow, Amazon, Zalando, Bol.com, Veepee and more will be in your inboxes boasting about the best Black Friday savings. While people all over Europe may be hoping to snatch up the best bargains – the best deal for e-commerce workers and their unions would be:

Dignity at work:

  • Fair pay and conditions through collective bargaining
  • An end to precarious work and abusive subcontracting
  • Improved occupational safety and health

What’s behind your delivery?

In truth, e-commerce and tech giants invest in their business, not their workforce.

Behind the deals, behind the corporate successes, is a system of worker exploitation due to a lack of willingness of e-commerce companies to negotiate better terms and conditions with unions, and a lack of overall regulation in the sector.

Millions of workers driving the business are poorly paid and face several health and safety issues related partly to technological changes. Workers are under constant surveillance while managing inhuman workloads, leading to high incidences of work-related physical and ill mental health.

In the absence of regulation, controls and enforcement due to a lack of adequate planning and capacity in public authorities to oversee the sector and manage its expansion, companies are free to exploit weak national legislation.

For example, the packing, sorting and timely delivery of our goods are done mainly through subcontracted or temporary workers so companies can avoid paying social security contributions.

Subcontracting is a key part of the business model in the e-commerce supply chain, as it’s the most widespread way to lower costs and externalise risks. In turn, workers miss out on the work protections and benefits they would receive if they were directly employed.

All this has created an unattractive logistics sector with a dramatic shortage of workers linked directly to poor working conditions.

However, unions are ready to work with e-commerce companies to turn this situation around through Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), and regulate the sector’s working conditions.

By signing agreements with unions, companies can improve the conditions of workers and ensure health and safety standards are met when introducing new technologies. Many unions are striving to sign Agreements with companies that also cover subcontracted workers.

Already in Italy, ETF’sunions are negotiating better conditions thanks to a landmark Agreement signed with Amazon back in 2021.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation and its unions welcome other companies to follow suit.

Across Europe, in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Italy, several of ETF’s members will be taking symbolic and industrial action to raise awareness on working conditions and to call on companies to sit with them at the negotiating table.

Through social dialogue and targeted legislation to govern the sector, workers can get what they deserve: dignity at work.

Negotiating is what unions do best, and we’re ready to get the best deal for our workers.

For more resources on this topic:

ETF sheds light on the logistics sector’s hidden workers