The importance of the UK’s HGV drivers has been brought into sharp focus over recent months as the nation grapples with supply chain shortages in food and fuel.
A lack of qualified drivers has recently has seen the army drafted in to help alleviate a fuel crisis and there are warnings that supermarket shelves could be hit by shortages this Christmas.
In October, the Government lifted rules on foreign haulier deliveries and foreign drivers to help ease the problem in the short term.
Industry experts say the long term solution is to improve the pay and working conditions for UK drivers.
Against this backdrop, a group of Liverpool tanker drivers have secured a deal to boost wages.
“Lorry drivers are the central cog in the machine of the economy, and deserve to be treated better than they have been in recent years,” said Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard.
Details of the Liverpool deal
Twenty-four drivers, who are employed by Turners (Soham) Ltd, are to receive a 17.5% increase in all elements of their pay for the year starting April 2021.
The backdated pay is due to be in the drivers next pay packet.
In addition, the drivers, who deliver bulk liquid food products to food manufacturers across the UK, will also receive a 4.55% increase for paid meal breaks.
Unite regional officer Gerrard, who worked as a lorry driver himself for over two decades, said the average salary for the Liverpool drivers would increase from £34,000 to around £42,000 with the pay and meal breaks uplift.
Improving HGV driver working conditions
“For those who think the drivers are paid well, what they don’t see is the 75 and 80 hours a week they do,” Gerrard said.
“It is almost two weeks work for a week’s wage and they have to deal with a lack of basic facilities to use when they stop for breaks en route.”
Concerns have been raised about government attempts to increase the supply of HGV drivers including changing the system of testing to allow drivers to gain their licence and enter the industry more quickly.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Lorry drivers have had to endure low pay and poor conditions for far too long. Unite is dedicated to putting the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first.”
Turners was contacted for a comment.