Growing numbers of HGV drivers are reporting that agency recruiters are offering them pay rates that equate to £70,000 per year.
The recruiters are also, the drivers claim, offering £2,000 as a ‘golden hello’.
The drivers are being approached in cafes and lorry parks to sign up with agencies who are usually recruiting drivers for large supermarkets – who often pay the best driving rates.
There’s currently a shortage of around 100,000 drivers which is leading to some supply chain problems and worries over the delivery of Christmas goods in the run-up to the festivities.
Approached at a transport cafe
Now, one trucker has called the BBC Radio 5 Live show hosted by Naga Munchetty to reveal how he was approached at a transport cafe near Watford.
He says he was offered £2,000 if he signed a two-year contract with the recruitment agency.
The trucker says that the agency then offered him five-night shifts every week at £27 per hour.
The agency says that they were also paying time-and-a-half for working on Saturdays, and double time for working on Sundays – that would be £54 an hour.
If the driver worked an average eight-hour day, their annual income would be £56,000, and with regular working shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, they would be earning around £70,000.
Lorry drivers would be looking at earning £103,680
And, some industry watchers say, that if the Sunday rate became the normal pay, then lorry drivers would be looking at earning £103,680 per year.
The trucker, who said his name was Barney, said: “That is unheard of in this industry.”
He said that his boss doesn’t earn that money, and the agencies are desperate for supermarket delivery drivers to work weekends and are offering ‘astronomical’ cash to do so.
News of the ‘golden hello’ payments comes after it was revealed that supermarket chain Waitrose is offering its lorry drivers more than some of its head office executives.
The national shortage of lorry drivers
And, amid the national shortage of lorry drivers, Waitrose truckers are now earning more than architects and solicitors, on average.
Waitrose says it is willing to pay large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers up to £53,780 per year in these ‘critically important’ roles.
Barney also told the radio show that the same recruiter visited other tables in the cafe and that drivers did leave with him to sign contracts as new truckers.
The chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, James Bielby, has acknowledged that these lucrative offers are now happening in the logistics industry.
However, he warns that higher lorry driver wages will lead to higher prices for consumers.
Logistics specialists and agencies
He says that logistics specialists and agencies are now making money from the crisis, but the current situation is not sustainable because the price of goods will increase.
And just this week another supermarket has criticised the government for not intervening to help resolve the shortage of truck drivers.
Steve Murrell is the chief executive of the Co-operative, and he is calling for structural change because of the driver recruitment problem and, he adds, this is a global issue and the world supply chain is now breaking down.