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DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

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DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#1

Post by xLc » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:36 am

A courier for the parcel giant DPD who was fined for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes collapsed and died of the disease, it has emerged. Don Lane, 53, from Christchurch in Dorset, missed appointments with specialists because he felt under pressure to cover his round and faced DPD’s £150 daily penalties if he did not find cover, his widow has told the Guardian.

DPD delivers parcels for Marks & Spencer, Amazon and John Lewis but only pays couriers per parcel delivered. It treats them as self-employed franchisees and they receive no sick or holiday pay. The company’s system of charging drivers if they cannot cover their round has been described as appalling by the chairman of the House of Commons’ work and pensions committee, Frank Field.

Lane had collapsed twice, including once into a diabetic coma while at the wheel of his DPD van during deliveries, when the company fined him in July after he went to see a specialist about eye damage caused by diabetes. He collapsed again in September and finally in late December having worked through illness during the Christmas rush. He died at the Royal Bournemouth hospital on 4 January, leaving behind a widow, Ruth, and a 22-year-old son. He had worked for DPD for 19 years.

Ruth Lane told the Guardian: “There was a constant threat of a fine. They had to deliver the parcels to tight slots and the pressure to get them done was huge. He was putting the company before his own health. He wasn’t able to do his parcels first and make the hospital appointments, so he would cancel on the day.

“He collapsed in January 2017 and they knew that because they collected his van. It was after that Don cancelled three appointments. DPD had a duty of care to make sure he got to those appointments, but they failed in it.” She added that in March her husband had told her: “I think I am going to die.”

Lane’s death comes as concern mounts at the human cost of the gig economy, which accounts for 1.1 million people, many working as couriers and minicab drivers. It is likely to increase pressure on the government to make meaningful reforms to employment law in a delayed announcement on modern working practices expected this week.

Trade unions last night said the government must crack down on bogus self-employment. The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The insecure work free-for-all has to end … this will be a real test of Theresa May’s government. Does she even have a domestic agenda any more?”

DPD, one of the most successful firms operating in the gig economy, made over £100m profit after tax in 2016. Both it and Hermes, another parcel company relying on self-employed couriers, are facing employment tribunal claims from people who believe they should be treated as employed.

Field described Lane’s death as “a new low for the gig economy” and called on Theresa May to urgently introduce new legislation to protect “this small army of workers at the bottom of the pile … who are being badly exploited”.

Lane disputed the £150 charge in July, insisting that he had told his bosses about the appointment months earlier. According to correspondence seen by the Guardian, he told his manager: “I have cancelled so many appointments because I couldn’t make the time to get there that the renal department have stopped treating me. I had to go.”

His DPD area manager replied: “I fail to understand why a full day off was required and as such do not see that the breach [the £150 fine] should be rescinded.”

During the appointment, doctors found Lane’s blood pressure and cholesterol were high, he had anaemia and rising levels of creatine in his kidneys, a warning sign of renal failure. In September 2017 he collapsed into another diabetic coma.

In the days before he died, he was feeling sick and vomiting blood, Ruth said, adding that he told her: “I really don’t want to work, but I have to.”. “They are like employees, not self-employed,” she said.

A colleague, who asked not to be named for fear that DPD would terminate his contract, said: “Don was falling apart, but they wouldn’t take it easy on him. They push drivers till they break. I definitely think they contributed to this. They knew Don was diabetic. They should have looked after him more.”

DPD said in a statement that it was “profoundly sorry” that it had charged Lane, but cited “confusion” at the time. “Don attended his appointment, but it isn’t clear why he was then charged, when the charge hadn’t been been applied at any other time,” it said. “We got it wrong on that occasion.”

Lane first collapsed on 27 December 2016 and Ruth texted his manager to say: “he knows he has to come into work tomorrow as he’ll get charged”. On that occasion, the manager responded that “he has no worries about being charged”.

“In relation to Don’s poor health at the end of December 2016 and into January 2017, we refute the claim that he was under pressure and threatened with a £150 charge,” DPD said. It said that it monitored Lane’s health during 2017 but did not know that he had suffered another diabetic coma in September. It said he had a quiet rural route with a relatively small number of deliveries, which suited him “as it was convenient for his hospital appointments”.

“In the runup to Christmas, it is normal in the industry for drivers to work additional days at the weekend and Don was working his normal route,” DPD said. “We weren’t made aware that Don was feeling sick and vomiting up some blood at this time. We were shocked and hugely saddened by Don’s death and our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

DPD said its drivers “do not have to provide the service personally, and drivers have the option of providing a substitute driver in the event of sickness. Don was aware of the need to provide a substitute.” It said if a driver cannot find a substitute, it tries to reallocate the route among other drivers.

DPD uses around 5,000 self-employed couriers. They are under pressure to deliver parcels to restricted time slots, must wear a uniform, hire a DPD liveried van and not work for any other courier company. MPs and unions have argued that these strict conditions mean they are bogusly self-employed and should be treated as employed workers. Courier companies using self-employed drivers, including ParcelForce and UK Mail, have also sparked anger by levying fines if rounds are not covered.

DPD said that it charged fines in 4.6% of the cases where couriers did not provide a service, but declined to say how much it raised because this information was “operationally sensitive”.

“How can modern Britain allow workers who are dedicated to their job to be driven to an early grave by such appalling exploitation?” said Field. “DPD have been told time and again that their punitive regime is totally unjust, particularly as their workers are labelled ‘self-employed’. Such mistreatment of workers smacks of sweated labour from the Victorian era.”

Source The Guardian



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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#2

Post by VC10 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:05 am

What an absolute disgrace.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#3

Post by fastjetboys » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:49 pm

DPD! YOU BASTARDS! MAY YOU ROT IN HELL.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#4

Post by fmspet » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:17 pm

There but for the grace of God go Hermes.

No better no worse than DPD.

In fact with Hermes i could have been worse, when you consider that your job could have been at risk, which is more that a £150 fine.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#5

Post by doveton sturdee » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:56 pm

For Heaven's sake, what a fuss over nothing.

After all, it isn't as if couriers are normal human beings, is it?

DPD working this one to death should be taken by Hermes as an excellent precedent, and all Field Idiots and Compliance Clowns briefed accordingly.

Verbally only, of course.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#6

Post by doveton sturdee » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:01 pm

His DPD area manager replied: “I fail to understand why a full day off was required and as such do not see that the breach [the £150 fine] should be rescinded.”

In point of fact, for an eye test, the patient has drops placed into his/her eyes which make them extremely sensitive to light. The recommendation is that the subject does not drive for 6 hours after receiving the drops. The DPD Manager who failed to understand this is clearly destined for greatness within the company.

Obviously, this only applies to normal people, and not mere couriers, of course.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#7

Post by fmspet » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:14 pm

doveton sturdee wrote:His DPD area manager replied: “I fail to understand why a full day off was required and as such do not see that the breach [the £150 fine] should be rescinded.”

In point of fact, for an eye test, the patient has drops placed into his/her eyes which make them extremely sensitive to light. The recommendation is that the subject does not drive for 6 hours after receiving the drops. The DPD Manager who failed to understand this is clearly destined for greatness within the company.

Obviously, this only applies to normal people, and not mere couriers, of course.

Very true, i had the diabetes eye test, photo's and all in December.
Could not drive for 6 hours was recommended and boy were they right.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#8

Post by Hermesslave » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:27 pm

James O'Brien on LBC this morning was talking about this and asking if the industry is really this bad. He was asking whether customers are complicit in being clueless when they get parcells to their door and have no idea what couriers are expected to put up with. I tried to get through but couldn't so tweeted him several times and managed to get the GMB mentioned at least.
I might email him and try and get a bit more detail to him about Hermes and the tribunal.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#9

Post by MGBGT » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:46 pm

fmspet wrote:There but for the grace of God go Hermes.

No better no worse than DPD.

In fact with Hermes i could have been worse, when you consider that your job could have been at risk, which is more that a £150 fine.

Exactly what I thought, Hermes are worse, there have been times when I have been out delivering when feeling so ill, I would happily pay £150 just for a day off.

We don't even have that option.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#10

Post by JohhnEdward » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:19 pm

DPD should be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter
Multi famam, conscientiam, pauci verentur

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#11

Post by jimbob81 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:30 pm

Hermes in their haste to be DPD on the cheap will be looking on in glee wondering how they can catch up in the death stakes......
Another target for them to aspire to....
When the Boat's a rockin'......

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#12

Post by fmspet » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:43 pm

Hermes are as guilty as DPD are having acted in a similar way in the past, things that in the 14 years as subby and courier i have witnessed.

It is only in the last 2/3 years that the media have taken an interest, prior to that it went unannounced.

We should be thankful for the medias involvement without which i don't think the unions and others would have become involved.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#13

Post by highlander33 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:31 pm

fmspet wrote:
doveton sturdee wrote:His DPD area manager replied: “I fail to understand why a full day off was required and as such do not see that the breach [the £150 fine] should be rescinded.”

In point of fact, for an eye test, the patient has drops placed into his/her eyes which make them extremely sensitive to light. The recommendation is that the subject does not drive for 6 hours after receiving the drops. The DPD Manager who failed to understand this is clearly destined for greatness within the company.

Obviously, this only applies to normal people, and not mere couriers, of course.

Very true, i had the diabetes eye test, photo's and all in December.
Could not drive for 6 hours was recommended and boy were they right.
2016 peak, i had a follow up appointment after having eye lasered to repair retinal tear.

I assumed would just be a re-check so hadnt tried to arrange cover, ended up having more laser ( and obviously the stingy eye drops )

Stupidly came back and did my round with blurry vision, albeit the specs i use for TV etc helped a bit.
I drink and i know things.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#14

Post by highlander33 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:45 pm

Regarding the poor DPD chap, an absolute tragedy and disgusting this can go on in this day and age. RIP.

I think all of us on here knew this would happen one day.
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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#15

Post by fastjetboys » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:43 pm

fmspet wrote:Hermes are as guilty as DPD are having acted in a similar way in the past, things that in the 14 years as subby and courier i have witnessed.

It is only in the last 2/3 years that the media have taken an interest, prior to that it went unannounced.

We should be thankful for the medias involvement without which i don't think the unions and others would have become involved.
So very true fmspet.
I noticed in the politics pages that there is a ground swell of MPs who are now distancing themselves from the gig economy and asking T. May to act. The press articles show how indefensible the gig economy practices are. This is now starting to embarrass and define political parties. I am always saddened by the fact that it always seems to take the lose of an innocent life to galvanise change. A big thank you from me to all those who work tirelessly to expose such hideous practice and bring about change.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#16

Post by MGBGT » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:57 pm

highlander33 wrote:Regarding the poor DPD chap, an absolute tragedy and disgusting this can go on in this day and age. RIP.

I think all of us on here knew this would happen one day.
Agree Highlander, it was sadly just a matter of time.

Thing is though, is this the first time this has happened? or is this the first time its been in the papers? guess we will never know.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#17

Post by Nimrod » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:29 am

Firstly my thoughts go out to Don's family for their tragic loss.

This whole industry is a disgrace. No matter which of the companies you deliver for. We all need to stand together and collectively ask the GMB not only to fight our individual companies but also to put pressure on the government to bring in some form of regulation for the delivery industry. Where by the basic human rights of couriers and delivery men and woman are protected and they can not only have time off sick but a proper life balance.

It’s time for Teresa May and her ministers to stand up and be counted. Look at the disgraceful working practices you are allowing to go unchecked. Put a stop to this inhuman situation now. Sadly Don's death is yet another unjustifiable, disgraceful, totally unacceptable consequence of companies who put profit above all else. We have seen couriers from Hermes sacked as they rushed to see their dying child, following a premature birth. Senior managers then happily apologies for their disgraceful behaviour as Hugo Martin did in front of the Seldct Committee, and a DPD manager has done over Don's. Yet as soon as the interview is over it back to normal,
profit first people somewhere after that. To quote a Hermes manager “Parcels come first”. All of these companies need stopping and stopping now.

A phrase has been used relating to the gig economy, the phrase is for me now outdated. The phrase is “ a race to the bottom” outdated as I think we have already reached the bottom, it just remains to be seen how much lower these companies can go.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#18

Post by fastjetboys » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:02 pm

I agree 100% with you Nimrod. If I may ask a question. Can the press follow and report on the court case in detail or are they only allowed to report on the outcome, not the content?

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#19

Post by xLc » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:03 pm

Statement released from DPD:
In a statement DPD has apologised for charging Mr Lane £150 after there was confusion around a doctor’s appointment he attended.

The full statement from DPD:

“We are devastated by the news of Donald Lane’s passing. Don worked with DPD for 19 years and was a much loved and valued member of our team. Don will be badly missed by everyone in the Bournemouth depot.

“Don worked as a self-employed driver for DPD as part of our franchisee driver programme, which has delivered huge benefits to thousands of drivers over the years.

“These drivers own their own franchise and run their own businesses. Franchisees are contracted to provide a service – they do not have to provide the service personally, and drivers have the option of providing a substitute driver in the event of sickness. Don was aware of the need to provide a substitute and used a substitute on a number of occasions. If the franchisee cannot provide a substitute, DPD will always try to reallocate the route among other franchisee or employed drivers.

“While DPD has the right, under the terms of the contract, to pass on to the franchisee the costs incurred if the company has to bring in additional drivers to provide services (usually £150), in 2017 we passed on these costs in only 4.6 per cent of the cases where franchisees did not provide service.

“We had been aware of Don’s health situation and we agreed to suspend his Agreement in 2014. Don chose to come back to DPD three months later. On his return, he was given a quiet, rural route with a relatively small number of daily deliveries. The route suited Don as it was convenient for his hospital appointments.

“In relation to Don’s poor health at the end of December 2016 and into January 2017, we refute the claim that he was under pressure and threatened with a £150 charge. We have correspondence confirming that Don had “no worries about being charged”.

“DPD was aware of the incident in January 2017 when Don collapsed while on deliveries. On his return to work after a number of days rest, the depot manager sat down with Don to discuss the incident. Don explained that it was caused by a change in his medication in relation to recent surgery on his ankle. He stated that the medication he was on had affected his diabetes and that the doctor had prescribed him different medication to resolve the issue. He declared himself fit to work. The depot didn’t charge Don for any of the time off.

“Clearly however, there was confusion around one particular appointment on 18 July 2017. Don attended his appointment, but it isn’t clear why he was then charged, when the charge hadn’t been applied at any other time. We got it wrong on that occasion, and for that we are profoundly sorry.

“During 2017 we continued to monitor Don’s health and spoke with him on several occasions to ensure that he was fine. Don continued to work his usual route. We were not made aware that Don had suffered another diabetic coma incident in September while not working.

“In the run up to Christmas it is normal in the industry for drivers to work additional days at the weekend and Don was working his normal route. We weren’t made aware that Don was feeling sick and vomiting up some blood at this time.

“We were shocked and hugely saddened by Don’s death and our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#20

Post by fmspet » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:23 pm

Just goes to show that there are two sides to each story.
Now if the DPD account is true, and i am not saying it is not, i could not have imagined Hermes acting in such a manner.

At the end of the day it is a tragedy for Dons family but perhaps DPD were not as guilty as they were originally portrayed to be.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#21

Post by fmspet » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:13 pm

THE BBC HAVE NOW PICKED UP ON THIS STORY.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-42946855

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#22

Post by glory08 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:26 pm

fmspet wrote:Just goes to show that there are two sides to each story.
Now if the DPD account is true, and i am not saying it is not, i could not have imagined Hermes acting in such a manner.

At the end of the day it is a tragedy for Dons family but perhaps DPD were not as guilty as they were originally portrayed to be.
Yes it's very sad and I feel for his family, but as you correctly say 2 sides to each story! Except not it seems if Hermes are involved!

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#23

Post by doveton sturdee » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:25 pm

glory08 wrote:
fmspet wrote:Just goes to show that there are two sides to each story.
Now if the DPD account is true, and i am not saying it is not, i could not have imagined Hermes acting in such a manner.

At the end of the day it is a tragedy for Dons family but perhaps DPD were not as guilty as they were originally portrayed to be.
Yes it's very sad and I feel for his family, but as you correctly say 2 sides to each story! Except not it seems if Hermes are involved!

Except not it seems if Hermes are involved!

Perhaps you would care to expound the two sides to the story when Little Hugo told Rachel Reeves that rounds were capped at 90, or when a subsequent Hermes Spokesperson confirmed in writing to Rachel's Committee that:-

Hermes typically caps a round of parcels at between 50 and 80 parcels depending on the geography of the route. This means that couriers have a predictable number of parcels to deliver. They are therefore never confronted with a vast amount of work that needs to be done which they had not anticipated. More importantly, a consistent number of parcels per round means regularity of earnings. Hermes' couriers experience little income volatility

Are you saying that both statements (which, incidentally, contradict each other) are correct?

I would contend that both are, not to put too fine a point on it, out and out lies, and have subsequently been exposed as such.

Care to comment, or to gainsay my claim?

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#24

Post by fmspet » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:25 pm

The difference in the way that Hermes would have handled this type of situation and the way DPD apparently handled it, is down to line management.

In the DPD scenario it was handled by the Depot Manager, a senior person in the operational location.
Now if this was a Hermes situation it would be handled by the lowest line of management the Field Manager, and i would suggest would never have been referred upwards.
And thereby lies the problem and its the Hermes us and them scenario whereby the logistics side and the service side do not work together for the overall good of the Company.
I bet 95% of couriers don't know the name of the Depot Manager of the depot that supply them, once out of the Depot that Manager says "job done" any problems are now yours.
Well i'm sorry any problems are the Companies and as a paid employee you should be working with your colleagues to overcome such problems.
The number of time i was told by the Depot Manager to keep the parcels for failed rounds at the sub as they were an embarrassment if they came back for re-manning.

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Re: DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

#25

Post by doveton sturdee » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:14 pm

fmspet wrote:Just goes to show that there are two sides to each story.
Now if the DPD account is true, and i am not saying it is not, i could not have imagined Hermes acting in such a manner.

At the end of the day it is a tragedy for Dons family but perhaps DPD were not as guilty as they were originally portrayed to be.
The problem for me is that, as a Hermes courier serf, I really don't know enough about DPD to be able to assess for myself whether their statement is sincere and accurate, or merely an effort at damage limitation. It is impossible to judge from posts on here, as there have been just over 100 about DPD so far. I would need to hear the views of current DPD couriers to make a reasoned judgement.

Had it been Hermes ( just over 91000 posts on here ) from my knowledge of the behaviour of the senior management over the past two years, and in particular the lies they have told to Parliamentary Committees and the media, I am afraid that I would simply have assumed the worst, by which I mean that it was simply an exercise in damage limitation.

Unfortunately, Hermes have broken trust with their couriers too often for me to give any credence to anything that they say.

The Randall Terry quote: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, as used by George Dubya Bush, applies here, I fear.

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