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Workers' rights are at the heart of the driver shortage and the Government must act says Usdaw

Date: 29 July 2021 Retail and pharmaceutical distribution trade union Usdaw has responded to a Government call for evidence on the current shortage of drivers with a long list of issues arising out of years of decline in terms and conditions of employment. The union is calling on the Government to address these fundamental issues to resolve current driver shortages.
Usdaw has identified the following areas of concern:
  • Lower pay and rights, sometimes forced on staff through ‘fire and rehire’.
  • Declining trade union recognition and collective bargaining.
  • Greater use of flexible shift patterns replacing settled working hours.
  • Lack of driver facilities contributing to health and safety concerns.
  • Extended driver hours resulting in more fatigue.
  • Fear of contracting Covid-19.
  • Expensive training with costs often falling on individuals.
  • Brexit has resulted in the loss of an estimated 25,000 EU truckers.
Full Usdaw response: www.usdaw.org.uk/DriverShortage
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Drivers are key workers who have helped keep the country going through this appalling pandemic. So, we are pleased to contribute to the Government’s call for evidence on the current driver shortage, but disappointed that it took a crisis for them to realise there are long-term structural issues that need to be addressed.
“For too long, workers’ rights have been eroded across the transport sector, along with increasing use of ‘fire and rehire’ to slash terms and conditions. These tactics have driven long-serving employees away from the industry and discouraged new starters from entering the industry. Recently some employers have increased contractual terms to those on newer contracts to boost retention, but this is too little too late.
“One clear way to improve terms and conditions across the sector would be to increase the coverage of trade union collective bargaining.  As has previously been outlined by the Government's former Director of Labour Market Enforcement, the decline of trade union collective bargaining coverage has clearly correlated with workers getting a declining share of national income. The Government has a key role in promoting trade union recognition across all industries and they should improve the statutory recognition procedure to achieve that.
“There are many other issues to address, as we have set out in our response. We hope this initial consultation will lead to further engagement and Usdaw stands ready to work with the Government and employers to overcome this growing problem that will severely impact our ability to recover from the pandemic.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members and the second largest road transport union with over 20,000 driver members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers