Gov't 'sponsoring exploitation of drivers'

Changes to lorry cabotage will result in driver exploitation and misery warns Unite

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Unite, which represents tens of thousands of lorry drivers, has warned that the government’s announcement that it intends to relax the cabotage rules will result in misery and exploitation.

Under the present rules foreign haulage companies from Europe can send lorry drivers to make just two deliveries before they have to leave the UK. The government intends to change this rule so that European haulage companies can require their drivers to make unlimited collections and deliveries during a two week period.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Poor pay and terrible conditions have forced UK drivers to leave the haulage industry and helped create this crisis.

“The government now proposes to allow overseas companies to force their drivers to stay in the UK making deliveries for two weeks without guaranteed safeguards like decent accommodation,” she added. “This will do nothing to address the chronic problems we face.

“Instead of tackling low pay and poor conditions the government is instead sponsoring the exploitation of drivers and the undercutting of terms and conditions on Britain’s roads.”

Due to the way the driving regulations for lorry drivers are currently applied it will be entirely legal for the foreign drivers who are forced to operate in this way to spend the entire fortnight they are in the UK living in their lorry cab.

Unite believes that the decision to change the cabotage rules is a direct result of the government’s failure to attract foreign drivers to voluntarily come to work in the UK on a temporary visa scheme. By relaxing the cabotage rules it will be European employers who can force their drivers to operate in the UK.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said, “This is the latest in a long line of panic measures by the government to try to cope with the lorry driver shortage. Yet again they have ignored the long–term solutions of vastly improving pay and conditions needed to resolve the shortages.

“The bottom line is that unless European hauliers are prepared to invest in proper accommodation for their drivers they will be forced to live in their cabs for an entire fortnight. This will be a miserable, exhausting existence for them and once again raises safety issues for all UK road users.”

By Barckley Sumner

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