Undocumented workers at delivery service DPD set up a picket line outside the company | Photo: Private
Undocumented workers at delivery service DPD set up a picket line outside the company | Photo: Private

Samir* worked for over a year using false papers for the DPD delivery group in the Paris region. Frustrated by the working conditions, which he describes as "slavery", the Algerian started a strike with 70 other colleagues, who were also undocumented. For four months, the strikers have been demanding to have their situation regularized.

"I started working for the transport and delivery group DPD France in Le Coudray-Montceaux in Essonne [in the Paris region, ed. note] in November 2020. I was hired using a false Italian identity card.

At first, I was unloading trucks filled with large furniture: tables, cabinets, chairs, car parts... As I worked well and my managers were satisfied, I quickly became a team leader.

'The managers exploited us'

In my warehouse, there were a lot of undocumented people like me. Some worked with false papers, others with aliases.

As time went on, the work became harder and harder. The managers exploited us, it was slavery. I have plenty of examples to back up what I am saying.

When I started, there were two of us to unload every truck. Over time, only one person was assigned to this task. The same goes for the sorting of parcels. At the beginning, there were six of us, then we were reduced to three.

Once, an employee injured his leg while unloading a truck. I asked the managers to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. They refused and took him out of the plant. He never came back to work and could not claim a work-related injury.

If we complain, we get fired. If we refuse to work overtime, our contract is terminated. Sometimes we are not paid for the hours we work. When we point this out to the accountants at DPD, we are told that it will be corrected next month, but this is rarely the case.

Also read: France: What should undocumented workers do when they suffer a work-related injury?

'We accept to work in these conditions because we have no choice'

No one criticizes our working conditions out of fear of consequences. We accept to work 10 hours a day because we have no choice. We have no official papers, we need to earn money to survive.

Four months ago, we were so fed up that 70 of us decided to go on strike, with the help of unions. We set up a picket inside the company and in front of the site, at the staff entrance, to ask for better working conditions as well as documents allowing us to be regularized.

A form called Cerfa together with proof of identity can be used to prove that an undocumented worker has worked under an alias for the company. With these documents, he can claim a residence permit.

After 17 days on the picket line, the court of Evry, informed by the company, ordered us to leave the premises. So we decided to move our protest to right in front of the company. But at the beginning of February, the town hall of the city demanded that we entirely evacuate the premises. The police moved us on. From now on, we come every day from 10am to 3pm to protest in front of the premises.

Also read: 'The hardest thing is not knowing': Families of undocumented migrants helpless after construction accidents

On November 30, the court of Evry issued an evacuation order on the grounds of "intrusion on private property". After this court decision, the strikers calmly left the building and joined the picket line, located at the entrance of the site, not affected by the eviction order. But on February 2, the tents set up on the sidewalk were removed by police who had come to enforce an order signed by the Coudray-Montceaux city council on January 30 for health and public safety reasons. Since then, the undocumented workers have kept up the pressure by holding a daytime picket line in front of the company.

Negotiations have been initiated with DPD and the prefecture, but for the moment discussions are stalled. Only about 20 people, out of 70, have obtained guarantees from Derichebourg. But this is not enough. We will continue the movement until everyone has obtained satisfaction. We remain united."

According to the mayor of Le Coudray-Montceaux, the company has agreed to issue 27 work certificates, compared to only six that were being offered at the beginning of the movement. These files will then be examined by the prefecture.

DPD and its partner company Derichebourg did not respond to InfoMigrants' request for an interview.

*The first name has been changed at the request of the person concerned.

The original version in French was published on March 21, 2022.


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