The Workers Union is supporting a new deal for lorry drivers.
The announcement came as the Department for Transport (DfT) decided to relax the drivers’ hours rules. The changes are designed to address driver shortages in the industry, amid fears that the situation could lead to gaps on supermarket shelves.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: ‘We’re aware of a shortage of HGV drivers, so I’m announcing a temp extension of drivers’ hours rules, giving flexibility to drivers & operators to make slightly longer journeys.’
In response, a spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘We appreciate that the government has taken this issue seriously. It shows that there’s a real willingness to work with industry to tackle the problem and keep UK plc running smoothly.
‘However with an estimated shortage of 75,000 drivers, it’s doubtful that making these changes will do anything more than place extra demands on an already stretched workforce. Lorry drivers need a new deal.’
The government’s initiative is largely seen as a response to talks brokered in June between officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and representatives from the retail industry.
Industry bosses warned the government that the UK could be facing food shortages as COVID-19 and Brexit have severely impacted driver numbers.
The Workers Union on Supporting UK Lorry Drivers
The nation’s lorry drivers are an absolutely essential part of our country’s success story. They’re the people who make it possible for us to buy fresh food that would have been difficult to get hold of a generation ago. They are the people that move goods and services around to fuel the fires of our economy.
It should be clear then that supporting lorry drivers with sensible working time arrangements that keep them – and other drivers – safe on Britain’s roads is in everybody’s interests.
After all, we cannot expect people to have the same levels of concentration at the start of a shift as they have at the end. Equally we cannot expect that their hazard perception will be finely tuned after hours behind the wheel.
So we need to find a winning balance between meeting the demands of supermarkets, and respecting the human beings who are giving so much to bring them their supplies.
Some of this must come from politicians reappraising the effects of COVID and Brexit on the sector. This could see foreign drivers recruited to join British fleets on a temporary basis. But fleet managers must also look at how they plan shifts and find ways of helping drivers release the pressure valve during particularly busy periods.
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