XPO Logistics, a major logistics company that Amazon, Ikea, Nestle, Walmart and other popular retailers have relied on to service customers worldwide throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, has been putting its global workforce at heightened risk of contracting and spreading the virus, says a new report released by an international coalition of labour groups.
XPO Logistics markets itself as a global leader in providing transport, logistics and last mile delivery services. It provides these services to internationally recognised companies, including Amazon, ASOS, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, IKEA, Nestle, Peloton, Starbucks, Target, Verizon and Walmart. XPO operates in 30 countries with 97,000 employeesand 1,506 locations. XPO reported more than $16 billion in total revenue in 2019, and its billionaire CEO, Bradley Jacobs, made $26 million the same year.
The report is the first to examine the logistics company’s treatment of thousands of workers worldwide. In addition to revealing a negligent Covid-19 response and deadly outbreaks in its facilities, the report details how XPO subjects its employees to wage theft and exploitation, hazardous work environments riddled with health and safety violations, pregnancy and gender discrimination, sexual harassment and extreme anti-union tactics.
“Deaths. Discrimination. Wage theft. Sexual Harassment. Health and safety violations. COVID-19 exposure. The list of allegations that XPO has to answer goes on and on, crossing borders to countries spanning the globe,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary at International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), of which Unite is a member.
Unite national officer Matt Draper said the report highlights both XPO failings globally and in the UK.
He said, “In the UK we have seen concerns raised around safety with Covid safety processes not being enforced. Concerns also remain about regular pay errors throughout the UK.”
The report, based on employee surveys and testimonies, XPO financial disclosures and news reports, details how workers were “terrified” after 64 workers contracted COVID-19 at an XPO facility in Swindon in July. Despite this the company refused to quarantine the facility.
A worker at the Swindon site told Vice news that he ‘seriously (worries) how bad things could be if there was no union on our site’. He accused the company of only taking action ‘when people became sick and… XPO’s productivity was halved’.
At an XPO/ASOS facility in Barnsley with 4,000 employees, 98 per cent of respondents to a survey said they felt unsafe at work. It took nine workers testing positive for COVID-19 in May for the company to close down the facility for a deep cleaning. Examples of similar company behavior in France and US were also cited.
In addition, the report details a number of international examples wage theft, exploitation, health and safety violations, discrimination, sexual harassment and anti-union tactics.
Actions XPO can take to provide safe working environments for employees and set new safety standards for the logistics industry as it navigates the COVID-19 pandemic are also detailed in the report.
For more information visit: https://www.xpoexposed.org.
By Ryan Fletcher