Link to article: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/21/london-cycle-courier-was-punished-for-refusing-work-after-eight-hours-in-cold
This article is about a courier in central London who was punished for refusing to work. The man was angry because he received no paid breaks or holiday pay, and had to cycle for 8 hours straight in the snow. Because he is a contractor for Excel, he is technically not entitled to minimum wage, holiday pay, sickness benefit, or a pension. Not only all of this, he is not allowed any official break time. However, the issue is he did sign a contract at the beginning of his work term.
Therefore, there are two sides to this ethical issue. On one side you have the company who had him sign a document stating he would work, knowing the job details. So by refusing to work, that is a violation of the contract that both parties agreed upon. In business relationships contracts need to be made and followed in order to have a solid relationship. If not, one or both parties are untrustworthy and business will fail between them. If someone does not hold up his or her end of the contract or agreement, he or she does not have integrity.
However, this case is not so “black and white” in regards to the contract. From the perspective of Andrew Boxer, the courier, he needed to break the contract because he feared his life was in danger if he continued. Humans will ultimately protect their bodies, lives, and dignities first. Andrew Boxer was out in the freezing weather for 8 straight hours and was expected to work more with no break. He stated that he could not physically keep going and that he thought it would be dangerous if he did.
There is a chance he could have gotten hypothermia and potentially died with the rate he was going in the cold. So he will unapologetically save himself before sticking with a contract that he signed. Does he lose his integrity this way? Maybe by definition he would. But that does not make him any less of a person, and he did the same thing most people would do in that situation. I think he did the right thing by stopping if it was that dangerous. I think his company should respect the fact that he needs to protect himself and should not press this matter more. Companies should not expect employees to continue to follow contracts when danger is present. When it comes to saving your integrity or your life, everyone will and should pick life.