Courier service staff have urged people affected by ‘zero-hour’ contracts to join them in a protest in Preston city centre.
Workers from City Link, at Roman Way Industrial Estate in Ribbleton, Preston, are angry about potential changes to their terms and conditions.
They say staff face pay cuts of up to £5,000, enforced overtime, the axing of bonuses and changes to travel.
One worker, who did not wish to be named, said around 50 people at the Preston depot would be affected, including drivers and warehouse staff.
He said they intend to meet outside Marks and Spencer - one of City Link’s customers - in Fishergate at 11am on Saturday, as part of protests across the country organised by The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).
He said: “City Link have tried to force on all of their employees new contracts, which they’re saying if we don’t sign we’re out of a job.
“Some of the staff have been here 15 years - it is disgusting.”
He said the main points of contention were a request for staff to opt out of European working time regulations, to accept the company’s right to send them home if there was not enough work, and to agree that any changes could be made to their contracts as and when the company sees fit.
Last month Labour leader Ed Miliband called for a ban on the ‘exploitative use’ of zero-hour contracts. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the UK are on these contracts, which allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work. They mean employees only work as and when they are needed by employers, often at short notice, and are only paid for the hours they work.
Critics say this leaves workers with little stability or security, and open to exploitation, but they allow businesses the flexibility to respond to fluctuations in their workflow.
City Link was sold to private equity group Better Capital for £1 by Rentokil in April.
John Tilley, RMT regional organiser, said City Link had consulted with its workers without first showing them the new zero-hour contracts.
He said the firm was also outsourcing warehouse work to agency couriers and had informed two Preston HGV drivers they would be transferring to another company with just 12 days’ notice.
He said: “City Link have demonstrated the very worst excesses of bad British employers. We intend to stand up to them and defend these low paid, experienced workers.”
City Link said it refuted any claim the consultation process was not followed in the proper manner.
A spokesman said: “City Link remains open to talks with the RMT leadership to resolve a number of outstanding issues in relation to changes to terms and conditions and is disappointed that some union members have taken it upon themselves to hold demonstrations while those talks continue.
“The current disagreement stems from the proposed implementation of a new pay and conditions framework designed to be fairer to all City Link’s front line colleagues and not favour a select few.
“Initially the RMT balloted City Link members for strike action over this initiative, but subsequently cancelled a series of planned strikes and have been engaging in constructive talks to try and resolve the difference between the business and the union over the matter.
“Despite the threat of demonstrations City Link remains committed to talks with the RMT union and will seek to continue to make progress while at the same time doing everything we can to minimise any impact on our customers stemming from the current dispute.”