Bus services and Christmas bin collections could be hit as workers are quitting their jobs ‘in droves’ to drive HGVs across the UK.
That’s because hauliers are offering bumper pay in a bid to resolve a recruitment crisis – with a shortage of 90,000 lorry drivers, the Road Hauliers Association says.
Now, with a promise of £50,000 salaries, growing numbers of bus and bin wagon drivers, are quitting to change careers.
The bus industry says they now need 4,000 new recruits to keep the country’s buses moving.
Several bus firms are already running reduced timetables or cancelling buses to keep crucial commuting routes and school runs open.
A spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK said: “Operators have recruitment plans in place, and we are talking to Government and its agencies to ensure that the recruitment and training process is as streamlined and efficient as possible.”
‘Shortage of lorry drivers’
The Unite union’s national officer for passenger transport, Bobby Morton, told Sky News: “It all goes back to the shortage of lorry drivers in the haulage industry.
“And a number of the things that lorry drivers share with bus drivers is very long hours, massive fatigue levels, lack of basic facilities such as toilet facilities and washing facilities.
“The mindset of the bus drivers at the moment is that, if we’ve got to work in these Victorian conditions, then we might as well get £20 an hour driving a lorry, as opposed to £10 an hour driving a bus.
“So, bus drivers are leaving in droves to go to the other industry.”
Drivers are quitting to work for food hauliers
The Guardian newspaper is also reporting that there could be a Christmas crisis with bin collection cancellations as drivers are quitting to work for food hauliers and the supermarkets.
The executive director of the Environmental Services Association, Jacob Hayler, said that the vacancy rate for driving jobs among waste contractors is about 15% currently.
He said: “The UK is short of HGV drivers, resulting in disrupted collections that will only come under greater pressure as we near Christmas – when waste volumes typically rise by 30%.”
The Local Government Association also highlights from its workforce survey that more than half of councils in England and Wales say that staff shortages are currently disrupting bin collection services.
Bus services are being cancelled without warning
Stockton-on-Tees Council says that some local residents are complaining that bus services are being cancelled without warning and they say there are issues of staff leaving to become HGV drivers.
In a Tweet, they said they understand that bus companies are facing driver shortages as part of a range of factors leading to a national problem.
They also say there are delays in new drivers receiving provisional licences from the DVLA.
A DVLA spokesperson responded by saying: “There are no delays for bus and HGV provisional licence applications which are currently being issued in around five days – we are prioritising these applications and looking at ways to speed up this process even further.”
Jeff Counsell, the managing director of Trentbarton, a bus operator serving Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, told the ‘i’ newspaper: “At the moment, the transport and logistics sector are literally throwing money at drivers to plug their shortfalls.
“The difference is that they can pass that cost on to the consumer – we can’t readily pass that cost on”