Online retail companies – deliver for your drivers!

1 Sep 2021

ETF backs European week of action demanding the online retail sector tackle abusive practices in the delivery sector; ending the bogus self-employment, precarious working conditions and low pay that drivers face across Europe. The week of action initiated by German affiliate ver.di starts today September 1 and ends on September 4 – and it’s just the start.

Who hasn’t ordered groceries online or treated themselves to some online shopping in this day and age? After all, no one can deny the convenience of delivery straight to your door! But that’s where the positive ends and the negative starts.

We are all aware of the anti-worker and anti-union practices embraced by e-commerce giants such as Amazon, but these practices are rapidly spreading across Europe. This is why ETF is supporting a European week of action to demand fair treatment of delivery drivers by the expanding online retail sector.

From food delivery to clothes to books and games, online delivery companies have found a way to opt-out of taking responsibility for their delivery drivers: either they subcontract these services out to other companies, or they force their workers into bogus self-employment.

Subcontracting last-mile delivery or delivery services to another company means that e-commerce giants can wash their hands of any abuses happening across their supply chain. They say that it’s not their responsibility even when these abuses happen right under their noses, in their warehouse.

Similarly, forcing drivers into bogus self-employment under the pretext that they’re their ‘own boss’ also gives these companies a free pass and lets them abstain from giving their workers the legal benefits, protections and social security that conventional employees enjoy. This means no annual holidays, no paid sick leave when needed, no proper pay levels and no social security coverage – all while these companies impose their working hours and rules.

These practices add up to a sector plagued by precarious work with drivers barely scraping by even when working impossible hours.

Because when companies making billions off the backs of workers can pin labour abuses on someone else or avoid giving their workers the benefits that they are due: they can and they will, and that’s where the abuse starts.

For the ETF, it’s time for this abuse to end, and deliver for our delivery drivers!

In the coming months, the ETF will be calling for EU legislation to protect delivery drivers’ rights. After all, the EU will soon have rules for the platform economy workers and on due diligence – there’s no reason the same can’t be done for delivery drivers.

Meanwhile, we will be keeping a close eye on delivery drivers’ working conditions and the e-commerce sector to bring anti-worker practices to light, improve the sectors’ working conditions and tackle worker precarity.


The ETF has launched a survey to collect information on the working experiences of drivers and use this knowledge to exchange with those responsible for their working conditions. Please share our survey with delivery drivers – their responses will help us in our future actions – anonymity is guaranteed.