The UK’s freight logistics sector could come grinding to a halt if drivers go ahead with a planned strike over pay and conditions.
A 24-hour stoppage is planned for August 23rd, with over 3,000 hauliers having already confirmed their intention to join the action, a number that is continuing to grow.
Should the strike go ahead, it would bring further disruption to an already-strained transport and logistics services sector, which has been affected by the ‘pingdemic’ and post-Brexit labour shortages, leading to supply chain issues and shortages of some supermarket goods.
This has led to widespread dissatisfaction with long hours and low pay, although for some drivers this is not an issue just stemming out of current circumstances.
Nonetheless, driver Mark Schubert told the Guardian, the current situation is one where employers can be forced to pay attention to the plight of drivers. He remarked: “For far too many years we have been ignored, exploited and taken for granted. Now our time has come, now we have a window of opportunity to be listened to.”
The Royal Haulage Association (RHA) has urged the drivers to think again, with communications head Kate Gibbs stating: “We understand the drivers’ frustration but downing tools is not the way forward. We don’t want to make a bad situation worse.”
According to the RHA, a key source of the problem is a shortfall of drivers, estimating this to number around 100,000. It has put forward a 12-point plan to the government, which includes urging it to tackle the issue by adding truckers to the Shortage Occupation List, enabling more visas to be issued for overseas recruitment. It is also calling for more support for training and apprenticeships.
Logistics UK has estimated the shortfall to be smaller, at 76,000, but it is campaigning for similar training and overseas recruitment measures to those advocated by the RHA.