In October 2018, the New York Times published the exposé 'Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination', which provides detailed accounts of women miscarrying on the job and exposed a toxic culture at XPO in the United States. In light of the report, the United States Senate and House of Representatives demanded answers from XPO and called for a public hearing in the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House. XPO has now announced policy changes for employees in the United States – but these changes do not go far enough.
Despite the changes, XPO fails to formally acknowledge accusations of gender discrimination, anti-union behaviour and misclassification of workers. Furthermore, XPO’s statement and subsequent policy changes fall short of formally acknowledging and reacting to related issues that were brought to their attention by global trade unions. XPO Europe has failed to openly investigate similar claims presented to XPO in June 2018, when a joint study by the ITF and the FeSMC-UGT union uncovered a culture of serious discrimination against women by XPO at one of its warehouses in Spain. It further found:
- Pressure on workers not to take leave for personal and family matters
- Occupational gender segregation
- A toxic environment for women’s psychological wellbeing
“The ITF stands up globally for women and men transport workers, and will continue to provide support to XPO workers around the world to ensure that XPO respects the rights of workers – including implementing effective polices to address gender and pregnancy discrimination everywhere the company operates. We renew our call that XPO sit down with the ITF and the affiliated unions to address its toxic corporate culture and pressure that has led to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and women miscarrying on the job. This is about basic human rights, equality, dignity and respect - global change is needed,” said Diana Holland, chair of the ITF women transport workers’ committee and assistant general secretary for transport and equalities at Unite the Union (UK).
“FeSMC-UGT is pushing for a negotiated equalities plan at XPO, as none appears to exist, despite this being obligatory in Spain for large companies. Such a plan would commit XPO to tackling discriminatory treatment. We demand this because it would, for example, end the systematic practice of dismissing pregnant women when their contracts come up for renewal,” added Verónica Silveira, FeSMC-UGT’s equality officer.
Photo courtesy of EDDIE