UK union threatens UPS with national strike over “excessive” workloads

UK union threatens UPS with national strike over “excessive” workloads

Delivery giant UPS is facing the possibility of a highly disruptive strike within its UK operations in the important run-up to the festive season. The union Unite said it is planning to ballot members and UPS workers during September and October, after months of campaigning against the company over claims that workers are being subjected to “excessive” workloads and “institutional bullying”.

The ballot could prompt a national strike in the UPS network of 53 depots around mainland UK, which employ thousands of workers.

The union does not have a heavy representation among all UPS depots, with the company able to use non-unionised workers to maintain operations. However, Unite said if strike action by operational staff goes ahead, it would see UPS losing out to its competitors Royal Mail and DHL if the issues were not addressed.

Unite led demonstrations at UPS depots in London over the summer ahead of its national strike ballot, starting at the company’s depot at Camden, North London.

The Camden facility, the largest UPS depot in Europe, was subjected to strike action last November, but further strike action in December was called off as Unite entered into talks with management under the oversight of government conciliation service Acas.

So far, these negotiations have come to nothing.


Matt Draper, the Unite national officer for road transport and logistics, said: “Our members at Camden have faced impossible and unreasonable workloads, which have been accompanied by a bullying culture by management.

“Feedback from our members at other depots across the country points to similar problems, hence the preparation that Unite is now making for a national ballot for strike action.”

Draper claimed that UPS had been forcing workers to work beyond normal finishing times, with some drivers having to work several hours beyond the 5pm finish “or face disciplinary action”.

He suggested management had disregarded agreements on sick pay, and pay for injured workers.

Last year’s strike action in Camden saw a 91% vote in favour when the 120 members at the depot were balloted.


UPS did not comment regarding how strike action might affect its operations, particularly in the run-up to the festive season, but said it was “hopeful” regarding discussions with the union.

A spokesperson for UPS told Post&Parcel today: “Discussions with Unite are on-going, and we remain hopeful that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. People are our greatest resource, and UPS works closely with labour unions around the world. It is UPS’s policy to comply with all laws governing employment and labour practices worldwide, and UPS is careful to take into account the point-of-view of unions along with the interests of our customers, our employees, our shareholders and our company as a whole.”

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