Lorry driver shortages discussed by political activist
The most recent development in the lorry driver crisis is that 18 councils have experienced delays to bin collections, as waste service Biffa has said it is “working hard to mitigate the impact of the national shortage of HGV drivers”, but that the effects “have been widely felt”. A combination of factors has led to staff shortages including many drivers reaching retirement age and new border restrictions imposed on drivers following Brexit.
Covid has also had its part to play, as forced testing at the channel tunnel over Christmas, created queues that were 20 miles long and isolated drivers for up to a week.
There has also been a tidal wave of HGV drivers choosing to retire, after putting up with poor working conditions and low pay for many years.
Approximately 2,000 drivers are leaving the industry every week, but only about 1,000 new recruits are joining the workforce in that same timeframe.
As some shop shelves begin to empty, haulage bosses and the Government are being urged to find a way to expand the lorry driver workforce.
Express.co.uk asked 8,510 readers how they think the UK should try to end the lorry driver shortage, in a poll held from 7am September 4 to 3pm September 8.
The most popular suggestion, taking up 36 percent of votes, was for haulage companies to raise worker wages in order to incentivise young people to enter the industry, as well as ensuring they retain their current workers by committing to fair pay.
One reader commented: “Those who pay British lorry drivers fair wages have no problems finding lorry drivers.
“The people complaining are the greedy employers who want cheap EU labour and pay them low wages.”
Fears are building that the UK could see a bin collection crisis in the coming weeks
Some major companies have started to offer incentives, as meat processors are already six weeks behind in Christmas stock preparation and the situation is becoming more and more desperate by the week.
Tesco is offering drivers a £1,000 joining bonus, as is Waitrose, on top of a pay rise of about £2 an hour, and Aldi has increased wages for drivers to earn up to £18.41 per hour.
HGV drivers hired through agencies have gone from earning £350 a day to a huge £800, and some are even offering joining incentives of up to £5000.
Lorry drivers are also calling for improved working conditions like access to bathroom facilities and more stop-over sites to rest at.
The Facebook group Professional Drivers Protest Group, United Kingdom planned a strike in August which called for an end to “low wages, long hours, general disrespect and disregard to needs of drivers, including being denied access to toilet facilities, no family or social life, more and more rules and expectations, increased responsibility and finally—massive exploitation.”
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Another 32 percent of votes backed the idea to launch tax-payer funded incentives for Britons to train as HGV drivers.
Voter, Jim Bell, commented: “How about taking a lesson from the past and bringing back government-sponsored training schemes for real trades where there is a shortfall.
“The most valuable asset any country has is its citizens!”
A significant 15 percent of votes suggested that the UK should use taxes to pay for CPC tests, required by the EU, rather than forcing drivers to pay for the cost of the test out of their own pockets.
One Express reader commented: “CPC for drivers is an EU policy.
“The UK government should drop it, removing an expensive burden that is totally unnecessary for driving in the UK.
“Our training for HGV is perfectly adequate without this added bureaucracy.”
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A former lorry driver spoke from experience: “If you paid drivers decent wages for the long hours and anti-social lifestyle, and did away with the pointless CPC test, then you would probably get as many drivers as you liked.
“I used to drive heavy vehicles for the prison service, but when I left the service, I gave up my heavy licences as I didn’t see the point in handing out good money on CPC testing and doctor’s reports just to maintain the licence.”
“It’s just another unnecessary level of paperwork that, to be frank, over the years has made the job less appealing to all.”
Other voters said that the UK should change the visa requirements to encourage foreign workers to solve our lorry driver shortage.
Haulage companies want the Government to add drivers to the Shortage Occupations list, allowing them to qualify for a skilled worker visa, making border crossing far easier for European workers.
But ministers rejected the request and have instead advised companies to invest in UK drivers.
The Home Office said in a statement: “The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.”
Many lorry drivers from the EU who worked in the UK pre-Brexit have decided to work elsewhere
When asked whether the UK relies too much on EU workers to do unpopular jobs, a staggering 90 percent of voters said yes.
One reader argued: “We need to become more self-sufficient and spend money on training unemployed Britons for jobs and pay a decent wage.
“We will then need fewer foreigners to fill the gaps thus easing the pressure on other sections of government funding like benefits, housing, and the NHS.”
The lorry driver crisis has created more tension and divide between Brexiteers and Remainers, as many have blamed Brexit for the shortage.
Another Express reader said: “Remainers blame the HGV driver shortage on Brexit, but this ignores the fact that the decision to leave the EU was made in the 2016 Referendum.
“Employers have had at least four years to train additional drivers but neglected to do so.
“They hoped to continue to use drivers from Eastern Europe and to continue to pay UK drivers poorly.”
Recently, Campaign group Defund the BBC have accused BBC News of trying to pin the problem on Brexit.
The group posted a video of presenter Huw Edwards saying: “The Wetherspoons chain said a number of its pubs have run out of some brands of beer because of problems with supplies.
“A shortage of lorry drivers is said to be an important factor in recent problems with logistics across the food and drink industry.
“Experts say the pandemic is partly to blame, as are the effects of Brexit.”
Defund The BBC wrote on Twitter: “The whole world is grappling with supply chain issues and yet the anti-British Broadcasting Corporation are desperately trying to pin it on Brexit.
“Your campaigning failed, get over it!”
According to the Express poll, a huge 87 percent of voters agree with Defund The BBC that BBC News has discussed the supply shortages issue with bias.
Members of the public have reported that items like beer, chicken, fresh fruit, bread and milk are out of stock in their local area.
In fact, 56 percent of Express voters said they have noticed that items are missing in their local supermarket.
Popular chain restaurant chains and franchises including Wetherspoon’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Greggs, Costa Coffee, Pizza Hut, Toby Carvery and Subway have been forced to take items off their menus amid food shortages.