Hermes Staff Recorded Throwing Parcels Against Walls, Times Investigation Shows
Stephanie Jones is an freelance journalist, author and academic. Her work has featured in The Sunday Times, Stylist Magazine and is a commentator on Welsh radio.
Shocking pictures and videos show how Hermes parcels are treated at their depot, piled up against walls and strewn across the floor, a Times and Sunday Times investigation has shown.
One driver claimed working conditions in the Bradford, West Yorkshire, depot left him ‘feeling like a slave’ while other workers are ‘too exhausted to care’.
Some have gone as far as kicking parcels around like footballs, according to one member of staff who wished to remain anonymous.
In the videos filmed in December 2020 and January 2021, workers were seen kicking, throwing and even running over customers’ packages with trolleys. It also showed boxes being thrown into the air to be caught by other staff members, while some played football with them.
The ex-employee and whilst blower, who worked at the delivery service’s Somerset branch for 15 months, said parcels were routinely hit, bashed and thrown, with hundreds damaged every day.
They claim drivers are expected to deliver between 700 and 900 parcels every day in just eight hours.
The worker said they regularly work overtime and clock in over 11 hours daily to complete the ‘impossible’ task as deliveries would otherwise pile up. The shocking pictures show hundreds of parcels carelessly strewn in the back of a van and scattered across one of Hermes’s 26 UK warehouses.
Some items are seen scattered on the ground after seemingly falling off the side of a conveyor belt – while one box that stayed on was massively dented.
The photographs were taken on December 27, just after the gruelling festive period.
The driver claimed any attempts to raise the issue were rebuffed by management who called them ‘replaceable’, and the person said that they feel ‘trapped’, and unable to quit due to having a young family and being unable to leave their job due to financial pressures.
A worker stated, “We’re not being treated like human beings – I feel like a slave. I think the way we’ve been made to work is absolutely disgusting. It’s mentally and physically straining. I’ve been in tears and when I’ve told management they simply didn’t care. They told me I was replaceable. We’re all too exhausted to care, I’ve seen people playing football with customers’ parcels.”
The worker claims the issues highlighted in the images are a daily occurrence at the warehouse. They said that workers are unable to keep up with the ‘ridiculous’ number of collections this winter season which has led to fragile items being thrown and left in precarious and dangerous positions.
The whistle blower, who was paid £8.85 an hour, said: “The same level of contempt is shown for parcels every day.
“It’s done by bulk. The more we process the more money Hermes get. They would just chuck them.
“The idea was to get parcels out, without worrying about how they were handled. It was throw them over here, throw them over there. Some people hit parcels, kick them, and throw them. It doesn’t really matter what the parcel is – I’ve seen it many, many times.
“They don’t really care. It was a daily occurrence. Probably about 200 parcels a day were damaged and if they’re damaged they go out anyway. The customer has to complain to the people they bought it from.”
In one image, a brand-new television is balanced diagonally with boxes labelled ‘fragile’ strewn all around it.
Among the many items the worker has seen tossed carelessly in the last month were Christmas trees, decorations and Christmas gifts. Despite boasting over a decade of experience as a courier, they said they’d never felt so overwhelmed before and that their personal mental health has taken a beating as a direct result.
The worker went on to say that, “If you don’t manage to get at least 700 parcels it’ll just need to be done the next day and it has a continuous knock-on effect.”
“I want to do a good job, most of us do. But these working conditions just won’t allow it”.
An internal investigation by Hermes has been launched after the pictures emerged online. A spokesperson for Hermes said: “We successfully deliver 390 million parcels a year and every one of them is important to us.
“We are shocked at these photos which do not reflect the standards we uphold within our 26-strong depot network.
“Our compliance team has launched a full investigation and we will take immediate and effective action.”