Lorry drivers 'denied basic rights'

Campaign launched to ensure lorry drivers in Kent have decent facilities in Brexit lorry parks

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MPs and councillors in Kent will be lobbied by Unite to ensure that decent welfare facilities are installed at all lorry parks built in the county, to manage transport delays as a result of the UK’s transition deal with the European Union ceasing at the end of December.

The government has already announced that there will be at least four massive lorry parks in Kent to deal with delays caused by increased checks and paperwork, which will be required after January for lorries exporting goods to the European Union.

Despite it being admitted by the government that substantial delays may well occur, however, there has been a lack of information about what welfare facilities will be available for professional lorry drivers.

As delays will occur while the UK is gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, decent and clean toilets and washing facilities with hot and cold running water are especially important. There should also be provision of hot food and areas for drivers to relax outside their lorries to combat the dangers of fatigue.

The government has currently only mentioned that portaloos will be provided and Unite believes this is entirely inadequate.

Local MPs and councillors will be asked to support Unite’s campaign and to ensure that the necessary facilities are provided, either by the relevant local authority or through pressure applied to central government.

Unite is also seeking a seat on the Kent Resilience Forum but its request has not yet been acknowledged. Currently there is no voice for drivers on the body, which is meant to be providing appropriate facilities for them.

Once the lorry parks are open and as drivers are expected to face long waits before they can cross the channel, Unite will launch a recruitment campaign while monitoring the welfare of drivers.

Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said,“Unite will not allow MPs and councillors to look the other way as lorry drivers are denied basic rights.

“This is a huge public health issue, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unless there are adequate welfare facilities then it is inevitable that the local environment will be damaged,” he added.

“The government has had years to plan for how transport will be managed post-Brexit but it has singularly failed to do so.

“The health and safety of drivers must not be put at risk as a result of the government’s failings.”

By Barckley Sumner

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