British truckers have slammed the Road Haulage Association’s request for lorry drivers to be added to the UK Government’s occupational shortage list. The news was met with widespread disapproval on social media yesterday, with many truck drivers making it abundantly clear that improving poor wages and conditions are the real priority.
As we reported yesterday, the RHA has urged the UK Government to do more to improve facilities for drivers, provide funding for training and apprenticeships, and take action to catch up on the HGV driver licence test backlog.
However, it was the Road Haulage Association’s request for lorry drivers to be added to the occupational shortage list that seemed to raise truckers’ eyebrows.
The occupations on the list are given some special dispensations within the immigration rules that are designed to make it easier for employers to access migrant labour to fill vacancies in those areas of identified shortage.
The RHA has stated adding lorry drivers to the list would “allow EU and other foreign drivers to fill some rota gaps.”
Under the new post-Brexit immigration rules, truckers from all over the world with a valid HGV driving licence and enough experience could be recruited to work in the UK.
The proposal has nonetheless outraged many drivers going by the reaction on social media – particularly those who believed voting for Brexit would improve their job prospects and lead to better wages.
On a Facebook Group for lorry drivers in the UK, one trucker said “those who voted for Brexit to keep out the foreigners have just been shafted by the RHA.” Another wrote “Wait what??? After Brexit u come up with this? how about a flipping pay rise?!”
The Facebook user above was by no means the only trucker to mention poor wages in reaction to the news. The comments below, from our own page and a lorry drivers’ group, represented just a fraction of those who were keen to highlight the poor working conditions many truckers have in the UK.
A similar reaction was also visible on Twitter:
There isn’t, but if that time comes the industry and the transport companies will have reaped what they have sown. No doubt you’ll want more cheap labour from abroad to come in?
— DT Al 🚚 (@DTAl1928) April 28, 2021
The move from the RHA comes just over a month after the International Road Transport Union’s 2021 driver shortage survey indicated that road transport companies expect a 10% rise in driver shortages this year.
In a statement, the IRU explained that the coronavirus pandemic saw the shortage of truck drivers in Europe fall significantly in 2020 – from 24% to just 7%.
However, the survey also found that European companies are expecting a 17% shortfall in drivers this year. The 10% increase is on account of the extra demand created from economies across Europe recovering as vaccines allow lockdowns to be relaxed.
“Driver shortage threatens the functioning of road transport, supply chains, trade, the economy, and ultimately employment and citizens’ welfare. This is not an issue that can wait, action needs to be taken now,” said IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto.