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MINISTERS and bosses must stop “dragging their feet” on the HGV driver crisis or face growing shortages and the prospect of industrial action, the Unite union said today.
The union demanded tripartite talks to tackle the underlying causes of a shortage, calculated by the Road Haulage Association to be 100,000 drivers.
And it warned that gaps already being seen on supermarket shelves will get worse if drivers worked to exhaustion for chronically low pay are forced into balloting for industrial action.
Describing the situation as “a perfect storm in the worst possible way,” Unite accused employers of “a brazen lack of respect” towards drivers as they tried to squeeze “the last drop of profit” from their contracts.
Improved pay and conditions are at the head of a six-point plan proposed by Unite to tackle the crisis.
It is also calling for action to deal with the lack of diversity in the sector, simplification of rules on driving hours, better parking provision, tougher sanctions on bosses denying workers decent facilities and shifting the cost of accreditation from drivers to employers.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “We call on ministers and employers to stop dragging their feet and sit down with Unite to chart a way forward, otherwise the present-day problems of gaps on supermarket shelves will just get worse.
“Unite is actively engaging with its members during the summer over the next steps needed to address these deep-seated problems facing the industry — and ballots for future strike action in the autumn remain firmly on the cards.
“Be in no doubt, Unite understands the simmering frustrations and anger.”
The DfT was invited to comment.
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