Unite, the union that protects the rights, equality, and diversity of workers in the workplace, urged the British government not to issue temporary visas to European truck drivers to make up for the chronic shortage of heavy vehicle drivers. On the contrary, according to a report by the Motor Transport Company, the union has urged the logistics industry to increase driver wages to resolve the crisis.
Unite is reacting to reports that the UK government is allowing for changing UK immigration rules to make it easier for logistics companies to hire truck drivers from abroad. The union, which represents thousands of truck drivers, said: “The solution is in the hands of the logistics industry. The union called on operators to eliminate low wages, address poor working conditions and poor-quality health facilities.”
However, the representatives of Unite stated that if the government decides to relax the UK’s immigration regulations for logistics companies, it will need to take safeguards to prevent workers from being exploited. Carriers directly employ workers instead of employment agencies.
“A contract of an appropriate duration must hire drivers, the wages must be consistent with existing workers, and they must not be forced to pay excessive accommodation or travel expenses.” A statement from Unite cited.
Adrian Jones, the union’s national officer for road transport, said: “Proposals to recruit mainly eastern European drivers to solve the lorry driver shortage risks recreating the errors that have caused the crisis in the first place. At best, it is a sticking plaster, and at worst, there is a danger it could make a bad situation worse.”
Mr Jones added: “Workers are voting with their feet and leaving the profession due to low pay. If employers think they can bring in drivers from Europe to suppress wages, this will only worsen the problem. Lorry driving is a highly-skilled, stressful and demanding profession. Unless workers are properly paid, then they are not going to be willing to undertake this work.”
Earlier, Unite issued a seven-point manifesto aimed at solving the shortage of drivers in the logistics industry. Some reports indicate 76,000 vacancies for driver positions, and industry experts claim that low wages are a key factor preventing people from taking up driver jobs.