Major supermarket chain Tesco is offering new lorry drivers a “sign on” cash windfall.
The news comes as a national shortage of drivers has led to gaps on supermarket shelves.
The initiative was revealed on Tesco’s website. Candidates who join the organisation before the 30th of September will qualify for the £1,000 bonus.
At the same time, rival chain Morrisons are looking at ways to train staff to become lorry drivers – with other companies also rumoured to be considering this option.
The crisis has its root in the pandemic, as well as additional complications caused by driver retirements and Brexit. According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there’s a current shortfall of 100,000 drivers – a figure heavily influenced by the closure of testing centres last year.
Driver numbers have also been affected by “pings” from the NHS COVID app, which has forced many to self-isolate.
Tim O’Malley, the managing director of distribution firm, Nationwide Produce, said that the lack of HGV drivers meant that ‘perfectly good, graded and packed fresh produce’ was ‘being dumped or left rotting in cold stores, waiting for wheels to go under it.’
Meanwhile, the managing director of the Road Haulage Association, Rod Mckenzie, told BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire that gaps on supermarket shelves ‘will get bigger and wider, unless something is done to tackle this.’
The Workers Union on Driver Shortages
In a recent news article, we drew attention to the talks brokered in June between officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and representatives from the retail industry. Since then, the effects of the driver shortage crisis have started to manifest themselves in earnest, as supply chains limp at half-speed and produce spoils.
While supermarkets must be congratulated for devising creative ways of dealing with this issue, the government must do more to get numbers back into the system.
We’d like to see extra investment in training and testing, creating a “fast track” system that plugs the skills gap and gets drivers through to the front line more quickly.
Without making this a post-lockdown priority, our “summer of freedom” could rapidly become a winter of discontent.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you