Incoherent safety measures putting DHL workers in “danger”, CWU warns


Lucian Milasan /
Tuesday 16th March 2021

DHL’s workers and customers have been put under “unnecessary danger” after the company allowed a manager with flu-like symptoms to return without taking necessary measures, the Communication Workers Union has claimed.

Large numbers of workers at DHL Parcel UK’s depot on the Trafford Park industrial estate in Manchester have been off work sick with Covid.

They believe this is down to a manager who had flu-like symptoms, but returned to work without taking the mandatory self-isolation period off, or getting a coronavirus test.

Concerned workers raised the matter at a works meeting but were told that the shift manager was “confident” he didn’t have Covid-19.

This is despite the manager having come into close contact with another shift manager who had tested positive – and, sadly, has since died from the virus.

Furthermore, over a third of workers at DHL Trafford Park have tested positive for the virus since the manager returned, prompting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to be called in to examine how to implement measures to protect employees.

This also includes numerous van drivers, who come into direct contact with DHL customers when delivering parcels and goods.

Additionally, managers told workers that if they take time off for a Covid-19 test, they would only receive their pay if the test came back positive. However, once the instant of workplace infections became clear, they u-turned and implemented workplace testing.

The CWU has previously written to the company’s HR Director, Sarah Maddox, raising concerns over the removal of Covid-related absences from the Company’s Sickness Absence Policy and contractual Sick Pay process (effective from 1st July 2020).    

Nerijus Pangonis, a CWU Rep at DHL Parcel UK’s Coventry hub said: “DHL workers aren’t paid for Covid isolation.

“As key workers, DHL staff are at an increased risk of contracting the virus and the company should be making it as easy as possible for them to isolate when necessary.”

CWU Greater Manchester Central Branch Secretary Jim McNicholls said: “Unfortunately, this worrying development is not completely unexpected.

“Throughout the pandemic, DHL Parcels have continued to operate a ‘business as usual’ approach, even though their policy decisions impact the spread of the virus.

“It is simply wrong and is putting employees and customers in unnecessary danger.”

The CWU’s concerns have been echoed by Trafford Labour councillor Mike Cordingley, who sits on Trafford Council’s public health committee. Cllr Cordingley said: “DHL is a multinational company that has benefited massively from the pandemic because of the increase in online sales.

“It is an absolute disgrace that they have failed to protect their staff, and potentially their customers, in this way.”

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward, alongside Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Trafford Council leader Andrew Western and local MP Kate Green have all written to DHL Parcels UK CEO Peter Fuller to raise their concerns over the lack of any nationally applied policy.

    • The company responded to workers’ claims in a Morning Star piece, which can be read here.

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