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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 July 2010

Harder work, longer hours... all part and parcel?

"ENOUGH IS enough" by Donna Summer and Barbara Striesand may not be the greatest song ever but the title illustrates the mindset of many a modern day worker. In the six years I worked in the parcel delivery industry, I saw my working conditions deteriorate rapidly.

Martyn Yates

I was a round driver with a ten-hour parcel target. Once you learned your round you were expected to, and could achieve, your ten-hour target in about eight hours.

However, year on year, changes to rounds have led to drivers doing more and more. The ten-hour target now takes nine hours and often far longer.

There are many reasons why. There's bigger rounds, which came in when voluntary redundancies meant we lost ten drivers from our depot. There's also 'delivery compliance', which stopped some quick methods of delivery, such as leaving a parcel over a locked back gate.

We are also taking far bigger parcels, which earn the company more money, but take more time and effort to deliver and earn the driver the same amount as a featherweight parcel. The amount we could carry was increased from 28kg to 32kg, and we are getting more of this type as they attract the premium rate.

When you're humping a 32kg television up three flights of stairs, (it's always on the top floor) your hands are stretched from holding, your back is aching from contorting and your legs are burning from carrying the load.

Recently start times were put back by up to two hours. Instead of a 6am start we have been put back to 7:30am with 8:30am for the second phase drivers.

This is proposed as helping to get more next-day delivery parcels into the depots, which again are premium rate parcels, but there could be a more sinister reason.

The company are beginning to introduce evening deliveries, which are classed from 5pm. It was first thought this would mean more drivers would be employed to cover the evening deliveries, but by knocking back the start times drivers are finishing later and the evening shift can be done without employing any extra staff.

Evening deliveries have followed AM, PM and 'avoid school run' deliveries, which give the company greater revenue but, again, these deliveries reduce the drivers' efficiency as the round has to be reorganised to suit these timed deliveries. Sometimes you will have a delivery in one area for the morning and may have to revisit the same area for an afternoon delivery.

Many drivers feel that a soon-to-be-implemented 12-hour target over a four day week, is another concealed way of getting premium evening deliveries done on the cheap. The company will save money by not paying for extra drivers to do an evening shift.

Any driver who previously worked over their ten hour target to earn a bonus, will now have to do more than their 12-hour target to earn extra money, which would be very unlikely.

Losing this bonus would mean a pay cut or drivers being tempted into working the day off they have been allocated.

These cumulative changes led me to resign from a job which I once enjoyed, but a decent pay packet is pointless when there is little, or no, time to enjoy the fruits of your labours. I am now taking home far less in my pocket but feel far better in my mind.

However, come the winter months, there will be some very weary drivers out there, enough is enough!

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