The pandemic bonus payment to Bradley Jacobs, XPO chief executive, comes amid growing scrutiny of paying senior managers large bonus and dividend payments while their companies receiving government support.
XPO employs more than 25,000 workers in the UK and carries out transport and logistics work for many of leading supermarkets including Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose and Iceland.
Unlike the chief executive, XPO staff who have risked their health and that of their families by continuing to work throughout the pandemic, will not receive any form of Covid-19 pandemic bonus, despite the unions Unite and GMB, lobbying for such a payment to be made.
XPO has also refused to make up the pay of the wages of workers who have been furloughed, who are only receiving the basic 80 per cent government rate.
Analysis of the government figures of furlough payments revealed that XPO claimed more than £100 million in furlough payments. XPO may also have received millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded business rates relief.
Despite claiming millions in furlough payments, XPO last year recorded $16.5 billion in revenue with a record breaking second half of the year. In July 2020, Jacobs received a long term cash award of up to $80 million and an annual bonus of $3.3 million for his handling of the Covid pandemic.
Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “The bonuses given to the chief executive are a complete kick in the teeth for the XPO workers who have risked their health to keep the company operating throughout the pandemic."
“There clearly appears to be one rule for the bosses and another for the workers on the frontline who have been denied any kind of bonus. What makes this even more sickening is that UK taxpayers money appears to have gone straight into the pockets of the company’s American chief executive,” said Draper.
GMB National Office Mick Rix said: "XPO spend on executive pay is nothing short of greed - especially when you contrast how slow XPO was to enact UK Government guidance for employers on social distancing and other requirements at the start of the pandemic."
“At one stage, XPO encouraged workers to share freezer suits at its Morrison's supermarket site in Scotland - until GMB Union stepped in," said Rix. ‘It’s time the XPO workforce was treated with respect and given a share in the vast company profits that they help contribute to."
XPO is due to spin off the logistics arms of its business under new name GXO, which will be headquartered in London. The new company GXO, will look to quickly expand by continuing its strategy of mergers, acquisitions and takeovers. The company is already extending its contract with online retailer ASOS and has secured a five year contract with the UK government to store goods and vehicles for the UK Border Force. Jacobs is set to profit from such a move, as he will own 17 per cent of both companies. The details have been disclosed ahead of the company’s AGM which will be held on Tuesday 11 May online.
This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about XPO’s business practices. In October 2020, a global group of unions released a report on XPO detailing allegations of wage theft through misclassification and subcontracting chains of exploitation, as well as serious health and safety breaches, discrimination and sexual harassment.
“XPO is a bad operator globally. The company’s health and safety record, especially in terms of its Covid response, has been such that you would expect the CEO to be penalised, not rewarded,” said Noel Coard, International Transport Workers’ Federation Inland Transport Section Secretary.
British unions Unite the Union and GMB have both raised serious concerns about the company’s response to Covid-19, especially in its warehousing facilities. In March 2020, the XPO-run ASOS warehouse in Barnsley was dubbed ‘a cradle of disease’ by GMB union, where working conditions had previously been likened to that of a ‘satanic mill’. In June 2020, an Iceland facility in Swindon run by XPO had an outbreak of Covid-19 in which 70 employees tested positive. Unite the Union said employees were fearful of returning to work and criticised XPO for not quarantining the site to protect workers.
Ahead of the company’s AGM tomorrow, UK unions call on XPO Logistics’ shareholders and customers, including the UK government and major supermarkets, to work with unions to ensure that the company values its workers, compensates them fairly, and respects international labour standards.