Union threatens to ‘stain’ Ocado reputation over wage row

A trade union has threatened a “loud, relentless and effective” campaign against Ocado after claims that the retailer’s drivers have been paid below minimum wage.

Although couriers are subcontracted to Ocado’s delivery partner Ryde, the IWGB called on the online supermarket to take “full responsibility”.

A report in this week’s Observer found that a number of Ryde’s drivers, who work on the rapid delivery service Ocado Zoom, were paid under £5 an hour.

Faizan Babar, who has delivered Ocado groceries for over two years, accused the grocer of treating drivers “like dirt”.

READ MORE: Ocado Andover warehouse up and running after fire

Payslips show he was paid around £5 an hour in the first week of August, and £2.91 an hour in the last week of July.

Ahmed Fahim, another driver, was paid £4.63 in the first week of August and £3.80 in the last week of July.

In a letter to Ocado, IWGB president Alex Marshall said the company had used Ryde to “reduce the cost of labour which… has negatively impacted these workers’ lives.”

“They have had enough of daily exploitation, unlawful deductions from their wages and the indignity of these working conditions,” he continued.

Drivers were paid £14 an hour when employed by Ocado, but their wages reportedly plummeted after Ryde took over in June.

Marshall demanded that the retailer bring the couriers back “in house” with pay of £16 an hour.

He also called for Ocado to properly monitor delivery weights, with drivers routinely being given “dangerously heavy loads”.

Some alleged that Ryde had ended the practice of splitting heavy loads, meaning each order weighs around 30 to 40kg.

One driver said he was forced to take painkillers “because my back and knees hurt”.

“I am sure many of you took to your doorsteps with your families to applaud the efforts of key workers who were putting their lives on the line… to protect us from Covid-19,” Marshall wrote to the Ocado board.

“It is now time to reward these key workers with the pay and conditions that the public and your customers know they thoroughly deserve.”

Both Ocado and Ryde deny that drivers were paid below the legal minimum.

An Ocado spokesperson told the Grocery Gazette: “All Ocado.com deliveries are made by Ocado employees, who receive significantly above the living wage.

“Overall, 99 per cent of all our drivers are employed by Ocado Group.

“For Zoom… a small proportion of deliveries are made by third-party delivery partners.

“Drivers who accept and fulfil orders for these partners receive above the living wage on a pro rata basis.

“It would be unacceptable to Ocado for any drivers to be paid below the living wage.”

A Ryde spokesperson added: “From an initial assessment of driver data we strongly refute that drivers are being paid below minimum wage for their work.

“Over 90 per cent of Ryde drivers earn above the London living wage.

“Driver pay does vary depending on the acceptance and fulfillment of jobs and the average driver pay for Ryde users is currently £12 [per hour].”

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