A delivery driver has claimed lives are being put at risk due to working practices at a courier giant’s north-east depot.
The self-employed DPD worker also says there is intense pressure on drivers based at the firm’s Portlethen depot.
Every day, lorries travel to the north-east loaded with boxes which are then distributed across the region.
However, because they are sent from a base almost eight hours away in Hinckley, the whistleblower claims the drivers do not receive the majority of their load until the middle of the afternoon.
He says this means they have just a couple of hours to deliver to businesses before the close – while also having to try to meet the time slots picked by customers to avoid a breach of contract notice.
The driver – who wants to remain anonymous to protect his job – said: “We could find ourselves getting out at 3pm trying to clear as many businesses as possible, but then we have to shoot across our area at speed to try and hit a 3pm-4pm delivery to then shoot back and carry on with the other deliveries. It’s pretty dangerous, as far as I’m concerned.”
Last night DPD said they did “not recognise” the complaints, and insisted road safety was paramount.
A spokeman said: “There are operational challenges presented by the depot’s distance from Hinckley and the geographic spread of customers in Scotland, but we have discussed alternative practices with the drivers at Portlethen and they decided to remain as they were. We were unaware of any grievances until you contacted us.
“The safety of our drivers and other road users is paramount. Drivers have control over open delivery ‘windows’ on their rounds to avoid having to rush between deliveries.”
The whistleblower also claimed drivers are suffering as a result of a nationwide cost-cutting exercise. Each worker is given a geographical area to cover and an agreed-upon target number of parcels to deliver, with a fee for each package.
However last year, the driver claims the firm introduced a policy whereby anyone who delivers over and above the target receives a reduced amount of minus 50p per package, meaning some are losing out on as much as £3,000 a year.
“Say I’m doing 10 over and I’m earning that £3,000-4,000 a year extra, they’ll take you in and take your rate down,” the driver claimed.
“You’re still doing those same drops but you’re doing them for cheaper.”
“If you say ‘listen I’m not taking that amount of drops because I’m going to be in until 9pm’ they come back and say ‘oh well if you don’t do them we’ll put someone else on your route tomorrow’”.
In May, DPD abolished its practice of fining staff for missing work when a driver died because he had missed hospital appointments. He had been fined £150 for attending one.
Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, is on the work and pensions select committee and last night vowed to highlight the whistleblower’s “extremely worrying” allegations.
He said: “These courier vans are ubiquitous and it is a wonder more accidents don’t happen on these intense shifts.
“Customers in the north-east are well used to paying over the odds because big online companies say they are ‘remote’.
“They would be shocked to discover that same unfairness extends to the poor delivery drivers, who have to fit a day’s work into an hour or face the consequences.”
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