NHS contractor TDL to face campaign by couriers after two rounds of pay cuts


22 October 2018

Campaign to target TDL, its clients and landlords, and could results in strike action.

The IWGB represents the vast majority of the over 100 couriers working at TDL.

First protest scheduled for 30 October, when the IWGB's “Rise of the Precarious Workers” demo makes a stop at TDL's offices.

22 October: Couriers at National Health Service (NHS) contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) have today launched a campaign against the company after two rounds of pay cuts and failed pay negotiations. The campaign will include protests against the company, lobbying of its clients (including the NHS), and could even result in strike action.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents the vast majority of the over 100 couriers working at the pathology services provider TDL, is demanding that the company reverse pay cuts implemented in 2015 and 2017, cover the couriers' costs and implement pay increases to make up for the number of years in which these workers have had their rights denied.

A first protest is scheduled for 30 October, when the IWGB “Rise of the Precarious Workers” national demonstration will make a stop at TDL's offices in Euston.

TDL admitted in June 2017 that it was denying its couriers basic employment rights by wrongly classifying them as independent contractors rather than workers. The admission opened the possibility for the IWGB to create a collective bargaining unit among the courier division, which includes walkers, pushbike couriers, motorbike riders and van drivers, something it secured last spring after a ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee, despite resistance by the company.

The collective bargaining negotiations failed to secure a deal that would reverse the approximately 30% pay cut from 2015 or the 15% cut in take-home pay, which resulted from an office move in 2017. It also failed to give an adequate pay increase to compensate for years of denial of rights and for the dangerous nature of the job. TDL couriers, including emergency blood transfusion couriers, are at constant risk of accidents due to the high-speed nature of the deliveries they carry out, but are not entitlement to sick pay.

TDL's refusal to meet the workers demands for modest increases in pay is in sharp contrast to the generous pay rises it has given CEO David Byrne, whose total remuneration increased from £384,000 to £420,000 between 2016 and 2017, putting him in a pay scale far above that of any NHS manager. The pay rises demanded by the workers are also a drop in the ocean compared to the £20 million dividend payment made by TDL to its Australian parent company Sonic Healthcare in 2017.

Alex Marshall, a TDL courier and chair of the IWGB’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, said: “TDL is happy to send millions to its investors and give its CEO an inflation-busting pay rise, but continues to neglect the couriers that risk their lives every day to keep the business running. We demand more respect, which starts with TDL reversing the cuts and providing a modest pay increase”

Alongside the campaign, the IWGB has brought a million-pound holiday pay claim on behalf of fifty TDL couriers who have been denied holidays since as far back as 1999.

The IWGB is the leading trade union for precarious workers, with landmark cases against companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.


For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer

[email protected]