Andrew Pierce calls for HGV drivers to be paid more
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Political commentator Andrew Pierce appeared on the Jeremy Vine Show where he stated the main reason for the HGV driver shortage is down to pay which he says is nearly on par with retail workers now. He explained drivers several years ago would be earning nearly 50 percent more than retail staff but that gap has closed to just 12 percent as he pointed out drivers would most likely rather work in a shop than drive for long hours. Mr Pierce added cheap Eastern European labour has meant investment into the haulage sector has been ignored but now urged government and companies to increase their wages to attract more staff after Brexit.
Speaking on the Jeremy Vine on Five programme, Mr Pierce said Brexit was a factor in the HGV shortages but was not the main reason.
He told the show: “The biggest problem with HGV drivers is the pay, there was a really interesting piece in the Financial Times this week – now that is a paper that is passionately opposed to Brexit.
“It said it is too simplistic to blame Brexit but HGV drivers pay has been falling dramatically and one of the consequences before Brexit is we had a great supply of cheap labour from Europe.
“Now that’s dried up because of Brexit but it’s time that employers paid proper salaries, proper wages, so we can get people back into the jobs.
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“We’ve got to train more HGV drivers, their pay has gone down proportionally according to the Financial Times.
“Five years ago, they would earn be owning 45 percent more than people who work in a supermarket now it’s something like 12 percent.
“If you’ve got a choice between stacking a shelf or driving an HGV truck for 15 hours a day with not that much difference in pay, what are you going to do?”
Major food chains like McDonald’s, Nando’s, and even some supermarkets have reported delivery shortages amid a desperate need for HGV drivers.
It is estimated there is a shortage of around 90,000 HGV drivers in the UK with Brexit being blamed as one the of reasons for the shortfall.
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It has been suggested foreign workers who filled in the HGV vacancies have now left the UK because of Brexit and, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, have not returned.
The pandemic has also caused a backlog in HGV tests with thousands being rescheduled during the lockdown.
Iceland bosses have previously said shortages were “double-pronged” earlier this year as the so-called “pingdemic” and shortage of drivers left store shelves empty.
Now, the bosses suggest there will be empty shelves for Christmas if nothing is done.
Managing Director of Iceland, Richard Walker, blamed Brexit for the shortfall but said it was a “self-inflicted wound” because lorry drivers are not classified as essential workers.
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Mr Walker warned there was a growing danger of empty shelves at Christmas because of the near 100,000 shortfall in the number of drivers.
He told BBC Radio 4: “The reason for sounding the alarm now is that we have already had one Christmas cancelled at the last minute and I would hate this one to be problematic as well.”
The retail boss added around 30 to 40 deliveries each day are being cancelled due to short staff numbers with stores only half stocked with staple items like bread and milk.
But Brexiteers have claimed the situation has been made worse by foreign labour turning the HGV industry competitive as wages and working hours remain unchanged and unfavourable towards British workers.
Lobby retail groups have demanded the UK Government invests in the ailing HGV sector through apprenticeships, more secure contracts and higher wages.
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