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Delivering change through worker voice and representation

Delivery driver (stock)
Delivery driver (stock)

Author: Learning and Work Institute

Ava is a member of the Better Work Network’s lived experience group. They live in West London and work as a delivery driver for a well-known online retailer. Read their perspective on the importance of connection and voice in one of the fastest growing roles in the gig economy.

I live in West London, in a town near Heathrow Airport. I’ve lived here for almost 17 years now. I’ve got two boys, one is twelve and the other is three. Managing two kids by yourself is quite difficult. I do have some help at home, my sister is there, my parents are there, but they can’t help much because they’ve aged now.

I work for a well-known online retailer as a delivery driver, delivering all the parcels that people have purchased. The job isn’t 9-5, it’s when I can and when I want to. This means I can pick up slots when my kids are at school or with my family.

I have worked there since November 2019. The job was better when I started, but it’s just getting more difficult at the moment. Life is just so stressful. They’re only paying you to deliver, everything else is on you. The car, the insurance, the data, the petrol. Everything is so expensive. It feels like it’s not worth it anymore.

Those parcels are being delivered because of us, they're not going by themselves. They really need to know how we feel as workers working for them - what's going on, how we feel, what we need, and what's impacting us or our families.

It’s very important for an organisation to know how employees or workers feel, and what changes they would like. Change is always good. It’s very important to have a community, someone, or someplace where employees can go and share their feelings, which can be heard, and then passed onto people above.

But at my job there is no connection between work colleagues. I pick up the parcels, and I drop them. That’s it. It’s just that same thing again and again and again. There is no other interaction with anybody, there is no community whatsoever. I don’t even see the same face again. At the end of the day, I feel like a robot.

The company just thinks about money. It's just money that matters, people don't matter. I know we are just delivery drivers, but if we weren’t there, how would the company get its parcels around?

It takes a team to make an organisation work. The company should value people. We should have the opportunity to connect and have some say over the business. All those people supporting that one cause, that’s how you get heard. If there’s just one person, it’s very difficult that you’re going to get heard, but if there’s many of you shouting from the top of your lungs, you can make a difference.

It could achieve a really good relationship between the employees and the organisation. It could make the parties feel much more valued and if you feel valued, you’ll do the job even better, better than you were probably doing it before, you’ll put your 110%. It would make the place much better to work.