Tanker drivers employed by Turners (Soham) on the Cargill contract in Liverpool have secured a bumper 17.5% pay deal, Unite has announced.

The 24 tanker drivers, who deliver bulk liquid food products to food manufacturers across the UK, are to receive a 17.5% increase in all elements of their pay for the year starting April 2021 which will be backdated. In addition, the drivers will also receive a 4.55% increase for paid meal breaks.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is an excellent result for our driver members on the Cargill contract in Liverpool. It demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are organised in Unite and take a stand.

“But fair play to Turners, the employers - they changed their minds and made a dramatically-improved new offer. That is an example to the rest of the haulage industry about how to go about offering decent wages.

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“Lorry drivers have had to endure low pay and poor conditions for far too long. Unite is dedicated to putting the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first.”

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “Our members were determined that they would no longer sit back and take the crumbs that were on offer. They made it clear that as essential key workers, who worked throughout the pandemic, they wanted a slice of the cake. They now have that slice with the cherry on top.

“Lorry drivers are the central cog in the machine of the economy, and deserve to be treated better than they have been in recent years.”

Added Turners MD Paul Day: “Their last pay increase was 18 months ago and the market has moved on. We and our customer believe this was a fair increase, bearing in mind the inflation we've seen in that time.

"Since April we've seen a shortage of lorry drivers and supply and demand economics will prevail. We dont operate in a silo or a vacuum. We have to adjust to the market."

Day added that drivers' pay had been adjusted across the whole market since May: "You either adjust your pay and compete in the market or you lose your drivers, it's really simple," he said. "I don't think it's exceptional or will open any floodgates. It's a question of each business in this market having to operate on a case-by-case basis. Every case has got to be looked at in detail. We discussed this one with the customer in advance. Both sides didn't get everything they wanted but we need to accept where the market is and move on."