Report accuses DHL of ‘systematic rule breaking’

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DHL has been accused of breaking its own and international rules on the way workers are treated in Chile, Colombia and Panama, in a report released by the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

The report by Victor Figueroa Clark, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, has been released as talks, which have been taking place since 2013, between DHL and global unions came to a close on Friday, 4th March.

Steve Cotton, general secretary of the ITF, said: “These talks have failed to improve conditions for DHL workers. While we were negotiating in good faith, DHL was continuing to treat its workers in a way that breaches international standards.

“It’s time for DHL to engage in a robust, transparent process in consultation with staff and their unions to improve working conditions at the company and ensure freedom of association for all of its workers worldwide.”

Tish Clyde, senior vice president for corporate HR international at Deutsche Post DHL Group, said that DHL had only seen one new allegation, relating to a suspicion that conversations have been recorded, that it refutes. The rest of the allegations had been resolved during the period of its continued dialogue with the ITF and UNI.

“We are committed to continuing the dialog with the global unions and yet they appear to see this as conditional upon DPDHL Group signing an international framework agreement with them. We do not see such an agreement as practicable: we have around 500,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories and we work with many employee representatives around the world.

“We aim to manage issues locally with the people closest to the situation and with the best understanding of their specific market environments.”

The report says that 42 workers were sacked for union activity, claims DHL monitors employees conversations and intercepts union members’ phone calls. It also refers to a worker who sustained chronic injuries ‘due to poor training’.

It argues that this activity breaches the DHL code of conduct that incorporates International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association, and the rights to organise and to collective bargaining.

Clyde said: “Of course, we have in place global standards, set out in our Code of Conduct which expressly includes the right to join a union as well as the protection of human rights. Deutsche Post DHL Group is also a signatory of the UN Global Compact.

“We have systems and processes in place to ensure these global standards are implemented around the world, including independently managed compliance hotlines to handle employees’ complaints. In 2015 we launched a training programme for 70,000 managers specifically focused on employee relations.”

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