The stay at home drivers’ strike, organised by the founders of the Professional Drivers Protest Facebook Group, took place on 23 August with no discernable impact on the already patchy supply of goods across the country, as supply chains continue to struggle with the UK driver shortage crisis.
The strike was in protest at HGV driver pay scales and working conditions. Drivers were urged to take action by not going into work for the day and staying at home as a protest against low wages, long hours, lack of toilet facilities, increased rules and responsibilities, unsociable hours, “massive exploitation” and falling wages.
It is unclear how many of the 4,000 members of the Facebook group took action by staying at home. A straw poll on the site asking members if they had taken action and stayed at home yesterday has only three affirmative responses so far. However, the group remains undaunted and, bouyed by the ever increasing number of members, is now planning another day of action on 5 November.
On the day of the strike, one of the organisers posted on the site: “Those of you who have taken a day off. Don’t expect to see empty roads. Today, there will be plenty of trucks on the road. The group has only grown to just over 4,000. There are 5 million tonnes of goods on the road every day. Just remember, for every one that hasn’t reached its destination, today will have had an effect. Ripples can turn into huge waves.”
Whilst the level of support for the action is unclear, the fact the group has 4,000 members suggests many HGV drivers are sympathetic with the aims of the group.
- Plans for nationwide lorry driver strike delayed
- Nationwide driver strike “understandable” while government blocks work visas, insists Logistics UK
- Planned nationwide lorry driver strike “counterproductive”, RHA warns
One of the founders, speaking to the World Socialist Website this week, said: “All of these issues have come to a head because of the pandemic, and drivers probably feel more disenfranchised than normal.
“It’s a general frustration and disappointment of how badly-off people are, despite having done so much for the country. Nobody sees drivers because they are individuals, and there’s a feeling of disappointment and frustration. Yes, nurses and doctors are getting clapped, but I don’t feel that the drivers have been recognised for what they have done."
The driver, who revealed he is a former Royal Army Medical Corps combat medic who began truck driving in 2018, added: “The Professional Drivers Facebook group started with one driver, who got 500 other drivers really quickly. The August 23 action came about because we said, ‘We’ve got to draw a line in the sand guys.’ The group’s grown to more than 4,000 members.
“Everything that you’ve got in your house, everything around you, has been delivered by a truck. I’ve had numerous people say [on the day of the strike], ‘There’s still trucks on the road’. But if you take every single 40-ft trailer, with 26 pallets on the back, and you take even 200 drivers off, that’s 2,600 loads that aren’t getting to where they need to go. That has an effect.
“Take a building site for example. If the guy delivering the concrete doesn’t arrive to pour the concrete on top of the steel that was delivered the day before then they can’t put in the support struts the following day and it throws out the building project.
“I want to see the industry improved. The reason we wrote the charter is that those key issues affect everyone. If the numbers grow by November, they will have an effect,” he added.