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Trucking Industry UK

Unite union slams cabotage rules change

The Government is playing 'Russian roulette' with road users' safety, a union claims.

A union that represents tens of thousands of HGV drivers in the UK is warning that the government’s decision to relax cabotage rules will risk road safety for all road users.

The country’s leading union, Unite, made the criticism after the Department for Transport decided to relax the rules on foreign lorries who are collecting goods or making deliveries in the UK.

Under the new rules, employers from anywhere in the world – not just those from the EU – can send their lorry drivers to the UK to make unrestricted deliveries and collections for 14 days. The new rule runs until the end of April next year.

‘Government using a short-term fix’

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said: “This is yet another example of the government using a short-term fix rather than developing long-term solutions to the shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.

“The drivers involved are at extreme risk of being exploited with absolutely no protection under UK law. 

“It could also undercut rates for UK lorry drivers.”

She added: “The relaxing of the rules won’t be a temporary solution, in fact, it could end up creating even more difficulties for the industry.”

HGVs can operate with a reduced weekly rest period

Also, during this period, HGVs can operate with a reduced weekly rest period which means that drivers could legally live in their lorry’s cab while in the UK and still be able to comply with driving regulations.

Also, the union warns that those drivers that are not governed by employment laws in the UK could be being paid less than the national minimum wage while they are working in this country.

Unite says it is worried about road and driver safety because:

  • HGVs do not have to do comply with the same licensing standards and restrictions before entering the UK
  • There’s no official public record of those firms taking advantage of the change in cabotage rules – which means there’s no independent monitoring
  • There are no checks carried out on the HGV lorries entering the UK on their roadworthiness
  • The only way that HGVs can be checked as to whether they comply with regulations on driving hours, is through rare spot checks.

‘Government playing a dangerous game’ 

Adrian Jones, Unite’s national officer, said: “The government is playing a dangerous game.

“Lorry drivers from throughout the world can now be forced to work in the UK with no effective checks on whether their vehicles are safe, or if they are obeying driving regulations.”

He added: “The government’s actions are also risking the safety of all road users.”

Unite is winning ‘breakthrough’ 20% pay deals for lorry drivers

Meanwhile, Unite says it has put together a new ‘crack squad’ to win breakthrough pay deals for lorry drivers.

They say it has secured wage rises of up to 20% for lorry drivers delivering supermarket products, as well as gifts and food.

Among their wins is a 20% rise for HGV drivers at a logistics hub company in Wiltshire, a 17.5% rise plus paid meal breaks for tanker drivers in Liverpool delivering bulk liquid food items and a hike to £15 an hour for 90 Argos drivers in the North West – taking their annual pay to £35,100.

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