German parcel industry trade association BdKEP is trying to put together a set of minimum standards for delivery companies in dealing with subcontractors.
The association is calling on courier firms to help develop a “Fair CEP” programme that will allow members to demonstrate that they are responsible in how they treat their workers.
The move has come after the working conditions of independent owner-driver parcel delivery subcontractors within Germany has been splashed around the German media in recent days.
German investigative reporter Günter Wallraff sparked the latest outcry after working undercover at the Royal Mail-owned delivery company GLS, where he found drivers working 12- to 14-hour days for as little as EUR 3.14 ($3.91 USD) in pay.
GLS did not respond to a request to comment on the issue, but CEO Rico Black has told German media this week he believed the report was “one-sided”, and highlighted individual cases.
The German parcel delivery market is currently seeing very high levels of competition, fighting for market share with very low margins thanks to pressures particularly to keep ecommerce shipping prices down.
The BdKEP, which generally represents medium-sized courier, parcel and mail companies, describes the current financial position within the parcel delivery industry as “precarious”.
Fierce competition has meant that even while operating costs, pushed by rising fuel and other inflationary pressures, have risen parcel delivery rates have remained low. The BdKEP criticised delivery company Hermes last November for introducing a new low-price package delivery service, saying the company was adding to the financial instability in the German parcel market.
The trade association says delivery companies are as a result of the price pressures “forced to rely on inexperienced or inadequately trained personnel”, and setting out pay conditions and deadline pressures for subcontractors that is “not sustainable”.
Publicly, courier companies have said they are complying with German labour laws, while some have suggested to the German media that they are looking to improve conditions. Hermes has suggested it will look to change to an hourly wage for subcontractors, rather than payment per package. The company was not revealing specifics when asked by Post&Parcel.
Fair CEP Seal
The BdKEP said the big delivery companies – DHL, DPD, GLS and Hermes – are merely looking to shift their business risk onto subcontractors, to succeed at their expense.
It called on the firms to sign up to its “Fair CEP” seal and comply with minimum standards for workers, demonstrating publicly that they are socially responsible companies.
Manfred Lein, managing director at BdKEP, said: “I invite all interested parties from the industry, including shippers, to agree this Fair CEP Seal and make it visible to the general public.”
Source: Post&Parcel/German media/BdKEP