Unite accuses government of Brexit planning failure as lorry drivers’ fears ignored
- Thursday 17 January 2019
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s latest union, which represents thousands of lorry drivers, has accused government ministers of ignoring the needs of lorry drivers, in their planning for a potential no deal Brexit.
While the government has begun planning to stack lorries at locations such as Marston Airfield and on the M3 in Hampshire, Unite is concerned that the needs of the lorry drivers are being ignored. As well as basic welfare facilities such as toilets, if delays are extended then food and sleeping provisions will be needed, in order to ensure drivers are fit and alert when required to eventually drive.
Drivers at breaking point
Unite members have already been reporting that they are increasingly being placed at breaking point due to long hours and fatigue and Unite is concerned that this is linked to a 50 per cent increase in driver deaths and a no deal Brexit will further exacerbate those issues.
Unite is also alarmed that all the focus has been on ports with roll on roll off ferries, when most goods are brought into the UK via container ports including: Felixstowe, Immingham, Grimsby, Liverpool, London Gateway, Southampton, Tees and Hartlepool. A no deal Brexit will also result in significant delays in the transportation of these goods, which will cause further traffic congestion, which does not appear to have been planned for.
Unite understands that the government has held discussions about its plans with haulage employers who have been gagged by signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) barring them from discussing the government’s plans with the workforce or Unite.
Long-term delays in the collection of goods from ports is likely to result in drivers voting with their feet and leaving the industry, further exacerbating the deepening recruitment crisis the industry is already facing.
Health of drivers ignored
Unite national officer, Adrian Jones said: “The government appears only to be interested in the management of the lorries and not the health and welfare of drivers.
“The government’s last ditch planning for a no deal Brexit is completely ham fisted and there has been a complete absence of awareness of the needs of the lorry drivers who are fundamental to keeping goods moving.
“All of the government’s focus has been on the roll on roll off ferry services and they have failed to take into account the serious disruption a no deal Brexit will have on container ports, where the vast majority of goods are transported.
“The government has ignored the needs of drivers and has gagged the employers, this will result in the chaos of a no deal Brexit, being even greater.
“A no deal Brexit will create further misery for drivers who will vote with their feet and either seek work on different routes or decide to leave the industry, which will create further delays in the UK’s supply chain.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.