HGV DRIVER SHORTAGES – PROGRESS, BUT KEY ISSUES REMAIN
The Chemical Business Association, which has led on the HGV driver shortage issue for the UK chemical supply chain, welcomes the Government’s latest initiatives to manage the impact of the supply chain emergency that is delaying or preventing vital materials from reaching customers in the manufacturing and process industries, key utilities, and the health sector.
There are ongoing issues still to be resolved and clarity is required in relation to the workability of the Government’s measures and in developing a long-term strategy to the chronic HGV driver shortage.
SHORTAGE OCCUPATION VISAS
Tim Doggett, Chief Executive of the Chemical Business Association, said, “As an industry, we have called for HGV drivers to be included on the Shortage Occupation list, so we welcome the Government’s movement on this issue. But 5,000 visas will make little impact between now and Christmas on the UK shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers. It is too little, too late.”
“Drivers of vehicles carrying chemicals or fuel which are dangerous goods must hold an ADR qualification, and additionally for the carriage of fuel a Petroleum Drivers Passport (PDP). Fuel drivers also require specific safety training covering loading at refineries and for deliveries to depots or garage forecourts. Both qualifications and safety training take time to complete. This does not seem to have been considered by the current measures.”
UNDERCUTTING UK WAGES
Tim Doggett, Chief Executive of the Chemical Business Association, said, “It is being asserted, in defence of only issuing a limited number of visas, that the Government is preventing the wages of UK HGV drivers being undercut. We feel this risk is exaggerated and misunderstood.”
“The UK is unlikely to be attractive to foreign drivers that have understandably elected to be with their families because of a combination of Covid and Brexit. In addition, conditions of services and roadside facilities for drivers are better on the Continent. Finally, Europe is experiencing its own shortage of HGV drivers. Shortages of 400,000 HGV drivers are being quoted for Europe as a whole and 120,000 for Poland alone.”
Tim Doggett, Chief Executive of the Chemical Business Association, said, “The DVLA has written to one million HGV drivers that have left the industry. This is a worthwhile initiative but begs several important questions. Do these drivers need a medical? Do they hold a current licence? Do they have a current Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) (if not, this training will also be required)? In terms of the chemical and fuel supply chain, is their ADR qualification or PDP up to date? Other specialised training will also be required for drivers of vehicles carrying chemicals or fuel.”
“We also welcome the use of army HGV trainers and examiners as well as the use of military facilities, though clarification is required on the apparent consideration to bring in army HGV drivers to fill some of the gaps on who’s equipment they will use, who will insure them, what training they will need and who will provide it.”
URGENT NEED TO PROGRESS LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS
Tim Doggett, Chief Executive of the Chemical Business Association, said, “Beyond the necessary measures to manage the current emergency, we believe that Government and industry must work together to tackle the longer-term issues and develop a strategy that will prevent the reoccurrence of HGV driver shortages.”
“Government needs to focus on improving the operation of industry’s training and qualification process and its regulatory underpinning. We believe it is possible to speed up this process without sacrificing safety which cannot be compromised. Industry must also play its part in the training process and by tackling pay and terms and conditions of employment.
Government and the planning regime must invest in and support the building of new strategically located, accessible, economic, safe, and secure parking with provision of facilities such as showers,
toilets and food during day and night. And finally, society must better respect and recognise the vital role, skills and qualifications of HGV drivers in a country where 98% of all goods travel by road.”
Further information from:
Chemical Business Association