The Sydney protest took place ahead of a major protest in New York at an XPO annual general meeting of shareholders. A coalition of investors and trade unions, including the US Teamsters, is leading the push for a shareholder resolution that would require XPO to issue a global Sustainability Report each year for shareholder analysis.
Reports have emerged of sexual harassment complaints at an XPO site in Memphis, Tennessee, and the death of a female XPO worker who was refused leave to go home after becoming ill and was refused CPR when she collapsed.
Female employees from North America to the UK and Spain have spoken about sexual harassment and discrimination.
The company is liable for hundreds of millions of dollars following a test case last year over truck driver misclassification, which resulted in a US federal court ordering XPO to pay $1.5 million to five drivers. A group of port drivers filed a class-action lawsuit against XPO in Los Angeles in February over misclassification.
Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the TWU and Chair of the Road Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, is demanding immediate action. “XPO must change its toxic labour relations culture. The stories from XPO workers in the United States and Europe are among the worst that I have ever heard in my time as a union official. XPO investors must hold this company to account for the appalling treatment of employees and contractors. There is a huge a huge liability for investing in a company with these fundamental breaches of standards,” he said.
The TWU protested in front of Orbis Investment Management, XPO’s largest shareholder with a 16% holding. Protesters handed a statement to Orbis Investment Management offices and demanded the XPO investor holds the company to account over employee abuses.
XPO recently announced revenues of $5.6 billion with a doubling of profits. This year its CEO Bradley Jacobs joined the Forbes list of billionaires, with a net worth of $3.4 billion. His total take home pay jumped 281% between 2015 and 2016, increasing from $9 million to $35 million.
Elizabeth Howley, who works at the XPO warehouse in Memphis where a female worker recently died, described the conditions that workers face: “XPO management forces workers to remove their bras at the security checkpoint. We see snakes, rats, lizards and bugs. We don’t have any nurses or defibrillators, and no one is allowed to do CPR, even if certified. We don’t deserve to be treated like this. No one does."
XPO is the largest logistics company in North America and has growing operations across Europe and in Brisbane, Australia.
*All monetary figures are in Australian dollars