Drivers benefitted from above-average, above-inflation wage increases this year as operators looked to secure a labour force against the background of the driver shortage.
Provisional figures published by the ONS last week showed HGV drivers’ wages rose 3.2% in 2015 compared with the average wage increase across the UK of 1.8%.
Inflation stood at -0.1% in October. Its 2015 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings showed that the average pay increase of a driver salary went up from £26,455 in 2014 to £27,313.
FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said UK operators were pushing back against the current driver shortage. “We’ve always said the driver shortage can only partly be solved by the government. The task for making the industry more attractive falls on the industry itself.
"Our members have done what they had to do, found new ways and incentives to engage their drivers with that business so they didn’t go somewhere else.”
Hookham added that he believed there will be “more of this to come”.
RHA policy director Jack Semple said: “Customers have to understand the pressure this is putting on hauliers’ costs.”
Last month DX Group told its investors that its profit would be “significantly below market forecasts” owing to costs pressures including the driver shortage.
However, the ONS data showed the number of HGV drivers had risen from 150,000 to 161,000 since 2014.
Hookham said that while this figure was encouraging, the industry has no way of measuring the extent of efforts to solve the driver crisis as it is difficult to measure how many drivers are leaving the profession every year.
“We only see one half of the equation,” he said. “It shows we’re pouring more into the bucket, but we don’t know how big the hole is at the bottom.”
Van drivers saw an average pay rise of 0.3%, while forklift operators’ wages fell 0.4%.