shutterstock_1260256447 (2) (1)

The Unite union has launched a seven-point manifesto, which it said would tackle the industry’s driver shortage and plug a 76,000-strong skills gap.

It said the declaration would make haulage a better place to work, but it required government help, as well as the industry to take “a long hard look at itself”.

Top of the list of issues identified is low pay, along with outsourcing and “an unhealthy reliance on agency drivers and bogus self-employment”.

It said these factors had helped suppress wages and made professional driving an unattractive option for job seekers.

Unite has also called for a national council to be established, which would set industry standards, pay rates and drive rogue employers out of the sector.

It said diversity needed to be increased and that the government should undertake research to find out what non-traditional groups think about HGV driving and perceived barriers to entry.

The manifesto also includes a call for a reform to the working time regulations, better provision of parking and rest facilities and adequate access to toilets.

Read more

It was launched as the union met with other industry stakeholders and transport minister Baroness Vere to discuss problems in the industry.

However, Unite said it rejected calls for driving time regulations to be relaxed in order to allow drivers to work longer hours.

Adrian Jones, Unite national officer, said: “The government must take radical action to ensure that the widening shortage of drivers doesn’t develop into a full blown crisis which harms our economic recovery.

“It is increasingly apparent that an industry based on low pay, long hours and the poor treatment of workers is not attractive to large numbers of new entrants.

“The industry needs to take a long hard look at itself and accept that trying to constantly force drivers to work longer is both dangerous and not a long-term solution to the crisis.”