‘Stay at home’ action on 23 August has attracted support from nearly 3,000 truckers, according to newspaper report but haulage industry body warns that protest will make ‘bad situation worse’ and severely disrupt supply chains.
Lorry drivers in the UK are planning a nationwide strike over their working conditions, prompting warnings that this would magnify food shortages and cripple the country’s already creaking supply chains, The Guardian reports.
Hauliers are proposing a ‘stay at home’ day next month in response to low pay and working terms, an event designed to compound the effect of the UK’s lorry-driver shortage , which last week led to widespread stock shortages.
However the Road Haulage Association (RHA) urged drivers against taking action saying it would make a “bad situation worse” and severely disrupt supply chains.
So far the “stay at home” action on 23 August has attracted nearly 3,000 HGV drivers with another 340 joining over the past week or so, according to the newspaper.
It quoted lorry driver Mark Schubert, who said : “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.”
Speaking on Friday afternoon from a traffic jam on the way to Norwich, Schubert added that he had never seen such momentum for change in his near 40-year career as a driver.
“We are trying to send a message that drivers are thoroughly fed up with the way they are treated by employers. Yet as long as stuff’s on the shelf, people don’t seem to give a damn about us.”
However Kate Gibbs of the RHA cautioned against any action that may heighten the effect of driver shortages, itself compounded by the ‘pingdemic,’ which has seen food supply chains hit as workers self-isolate.
Even the exemption of about 10,000 workers at 500 food distribution centres from quarantine does not appear to have offset the effect of the current shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers. On Friday, the supermarkets Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s began asking suppliers for extra payments to cover the costs of raising wages for delivery drivers in a desperate move to offset shortages, The Guardian underlined.
Gibbs said: “We understand the drivers’ frustration but downing tools is not the way forward. We don’t want to make a bad situation worse. A supply chain that runs like clockwork only requires the tiniest thing to throw it out completely.
“If you think things are bad now it’ll just make things so much worse.”