Winter weather March 2nd 2018

DHL Supply Chain has hit back at union accusations that it sent drivers out last week in conditions that put their safety at risk.

The company’s depot in Westfield, Cumbernauld, was accused by Unite Scotland of sending drivers out despite police and Government travel warnings.

A spokesperson for DHL said: “The events in question relate to the period from Wednesday to Thursday and have been misreported.

"Our drivers left the depot during an amber warning and each was briefed prior to leaving and raised no objections after looking at the Traffic Scotland live camera feed.

"While they were out making their deliveries the warning was escalated to red at 13.20hrs. Not one driver subsequently contacted the office to request a return to depot or flag that they were at risk."

"Our policy is clear - we do not dispatch drivers into areas subject to a Met Office red alert and did not do so in this instance. No vehicles were asked to leave the depot after 13:00 or after the red alert was issued.

"The safety of our drivers and the general public remain our top priority and all our drivers will be paid for their shifts, whether they completed them or not.”

Neverthless, Unite Scotland reported that the crew of two drivers sent to Inverness and Elgin, and the one sent to Aberdeen, were trapped in standstill traffic jams for more than 24 hours outside Perth and only freed to travel by Thursday afternoon.

The Edinburgh driver was trapped from just after 11am on Wednesday until around the same time on Thursday in the jam at Castlecary Arches on the M80.

Wendy Dunsmore Unite Regional officer says: “This is a flagrant breach of health and safety laws.The management concerned have ignored red and amber warnings. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that they were quite prepared to put lives in jeopardy by their insistence on deliveries.

"They were more concerned about protecting company profit than the well-being of staff. The senior executives at DHL need to sort this out.”

The union added that it believes that the haulage associations should agree a policy that prevents drivers being forced to deliver goods when government agencies are advising against all travel.

By David Harris