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Volume 706: debated on Monday 10 January 2022


Monday 10 January 2022


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Ocado Zoom

The petition of residents of the constituency of Ealing Central and Acton.

Declares that Ocado has not followed through on its promise to cease the use of third-party employment and transfer the workforce from 4 October 2021; further that the majority of deliveries are currently carried out by the third-party agency “Job and Talent”; further that Ocado Zoom offers no flexibility despite promises to provide fully-flexible contracts; notes that Ocado Zoom’s business has deteriorated because of the failure to implement the transfer of workers; and notes that Ocado Zoom continues to engage in exploitative practices and anti-trade union behaviour as they continue to prioritise profit over the working conditions of its staff.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to consider the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to ensure that Ocado engage with delivery drivers’ chosen trade union, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), in order to resolve the current dispute; further that the Government should press Ocado Zoom to avoid further job losses of key workers.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Official Report, 9 November 2021; Vol. 703, c. 288 .]


Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully):

The Government recognise the critical role that supermarket delivery drivers play in our society and economy. In particular we are grateful for the work they have done to ensure that deliveries of essentials continued during the pandemic.

It is our expectation that employers should always treat employees fairly and in a spirit of partnership.

The Government encourage employers to talk to workers and their representatives to resolve disputes as industrial action should be a last resort. Collective bargaining is largely a matter for individual employers, their employees and their trade unions. The Government therefore believe that they should not intervene in any negotiations or be seen to take sides in any dispute or disagreement. However, ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) stands ready to assist the parties to resolve their dispute, should they wish it. ACAS does an excellent job in helping parties resolve their differences, and the Government encourage the parties to consider using its services wherever possible.

The Government recognise that it is important that individuals have transparent information about their employment relationship. Workers and employees have a statutory right to receive a written statement setting out the main particulars of their employment, which should include the main expectations involved with the role. The Government believe that it is right that terms and conditions of employment are for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). However, should employers need to make changes to terms and conditions, they must seek to reach an agreement with their employees or their representatives. The Government encourage individuals who are concerned that their terms of employment have been changed, or that their contract has not been honoured, to seek advice from ACAS.

The Government are also committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic. Through this legislation, we are determined to build a high skilled, high productivity, high wage economy that delivers on our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work and grow a business. As we build back better, we will bring forward measures to establish an employment framework which is fit for purpose and keeps pace with the needs of modern workplaces.

These measures will encourage flexible working, protect vulnerable workers, take a smarter approach to enforcement of employment law, and build on the strengths of our flexible labour market to support jobs.