Truck drivers are planning a nationwide strike over their working conditions, prompting warnings that this would magnify food shortages and cripple the country’s already creaking supply chains.
Carriers are proposing a “stay at home” day next month in response to low wages and working conditions, an event designed to compound the effect of the UK truck driver shortage, which last week caused a shortage generalized stock. However, the Road Transport Association, which represents commercial trucking companies and has more than 7,000 members, warned drivers not to take action saying it would make a “bad situation” worse and seriously disrupt automated chains. .
So far, the “stay-at-home” action on Aug. 23 has attracted nearly 3,000 heavy-duty vehicle drivers and another 340 joined last week. Trucker Mark Schubert said: “For too many years we have been ignored, exploited and taken for granted. Now our time has come, now we have a window of opportunity to be heard. “
Speaking Friday afternoon from a traffic jam on the road to Norwich, Schubert added that he had never seen such a huge push for change in his nearly 40-year career as a driver.
“We are trying to send a message that drivers are completely fed up with the way employers treat them. However, as long as there are things on the shelf, people don’t seem to give a damn. “
However, RHA’s Kate Gibbs cautioned against any action that could increase the effect of the driver shortage, exacerbated by the “pingdemic,” which has hit food supply chains as workers isolate themselves.
Even the exemption from quarantine of some 10,000 workers at 500 food distribution centers does not appear to have offset the effect of the current shortage of 100,000 truck drivers. On Friday, supermarkets Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s began asking suppliers for additional payments to cover the costs of increasing the salaries of delivery drivers in a desperate move to make up for the shortage.
Gibbs said: “We understand driver frustration, but knocking down tools is not the way to go. We don’t want to make a bad situation worse. A supply chain that runs like clockwork only requires the smallest thing to be completely eliminated.
“If you think things are bad now, it will make them much worse.”
Last week, the government unveiled plans to help address the truck driver crisis, including reducing driver qualification requirements and improving working conditions. However, Schubert is among those who believe these not only fail to address sector concerns, but could also take at least six months to take effect, without addressing the threat of food shortages this summer.
He also said that the effects of Brexit, which is believed to have forced some 25,000 truckers back to the EU, have been underscored by the hardline stance of the Interior Ministry since then. “Looking at the road [the home secretary] Priti Patel and his cohorts in the Interior Ministry treat foreigners, they will not be too interested in coming back, “he said.
“Even if they can, will they be treated like criminals when they get to the border? This problem cannot be solved overnight. Even if it allows Eastern European drivers on short-term work visas, this will take six months to two years to fix. “