Truckers and RHA blast Stena Line over “disgraceful” shared cabins policy

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Truckers and RHA blast Stena Line over “disgraceful” shared cabins policy

Stena Line has been fiercely criticised by lorry drivers and the RHA after its leaflet said it would be “returning to shared cabins when needed” in the return to normal after lockdown.

A brochure containing the above details, spotted by a driver using a Stella Line service between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was referred to during Steven Nolan’s BBC radio programme earlier today.

In the programme, Nolan read from the aforementioned leaflet, which says “In the return to normal, and so we can operate more efficiently, we’ll also be returning to shared cabins when needed.”

During the pandemic, lorry drivers using Stena’s crossings between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have, in theory at least, had cabins to themselves. Traffic from non-freight passengers has been very low, so offering truckers a cabin to lorry drivers, whether mandated or not, has not been too difficult for the ferry operator.

However, now that restrictions have been lifted in England, more passengers are expected to use Stena’s services and it appears the ferry operator hopes to be in a position to cash in on the more profitable shared cabins.

After news of the change broke, a host of truckers called into Nolan’s show to criticise the move, as did the RHA’s John Martin.

Martin told host Nolan that the decision was “nothing short of disgraceful” given the apparent lack of consultation with the industry and the essential role lorry drivers play in the economy. He added that truckers “must be protected at all costs” and stressed “Stena Line’s finances shouldn’t come into this, this is a public health issue.”

Next, Nolan pointed out that rules in Northern Ireland ban any more than two households from mixing – laws that the shared cabins plan would see broken.

The radio host then asked Martin if lorry drivers should refuse to board Stena Line’s vessels. Martin replied: “I wouldn’t suggest that they refuse to get onto the ship, but they should refuse to share cabins if they have concerns.”

Earlier in the programme, a lorry driver said the change in policy from Stena Line was an “injustice” and stressed that social distancing in the cabins is impossible. He also described the move as a “slap in the face by Stena” before going on to accuse the company of only caring about money.

Another trucker also called in to describe the return to shared cabins as “ridiculous”,  “disgraceful” and “money driven”.

The change was supposed to apply from today. However, amid the backlash, Stena Line are said to have told the BBC that they don’t know when the shared cabins policy will begin:

Photo © Copyright The Carlisle Kid and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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