‘Urgent action’ needed to tackle lorry driver shortage in Wales as report highlights poor working conditions
A Welsh Parliament Committee is calling for urgent improvements for HGV drivers following the impact that a shortage of drivers has had on supply chains in Wales.
Following last year’s empty shelves, closed petrol stations, and disrupted services, the Committee has carried out an inquiry, looking at the reasons for driver shortages and problems in the industry.
The Senedd’s Economy Committee is highlighting serious problems and has heard grave concerns from HGV drivers.
One driver told the Committee: “The age demographic of drivers is now into the late 50 so in the next 10-12 years most drivers in this country will have retired, why on earth would any young person want to go into the haulage industry.
Any child of a driver will know how s**t it is as they never saw their father.
“It’s dirty, s**t pay, stuck in traffic, treated like a second-class citizen, spoken to like s**t, continually hassled by office clerks who can’t even drive a car, VOSA and the Police.”
“Made to wait in cold, damp, draughty corridors with no facilities while the warehouse takes hours to tip you. s**t pay.”
The Committee is clear that several issues coalesced to create the situation. The impact of the pandemic and leaving the EU were contributing factors, however an existing shortage of HGV drivers amplified these issues and is a key underlying cause of the supply chain problems.
After speaking to drivers, industry representatives and businesses, today’s Committee report is providing recommendations and calls for urgent action from the Welsh Government.
The report has a raft of recommendations for urgent improvements and measures to support the industry.
Drivers raised a number of complaints about the quality of rest stops across Wales. Stops lack facilities, are often dirty and have expensive poor quality food. Members were particularly concerned to hear drivers’ reports of regular robbery and threats of violence with some drivers viewing this as an occupational hazard.
The Committee concluded that this lack of safe rest stops with good, clean facilities is a key reason many drivers quit and people do not see HGV driving as a viable career choice.
Today’s report is calling on the Welsh Government to carry out an audit of rest facilities for drivers and create a national inventory similar to that available for England.
It is also calling for the Welsh Government to urgently work with partners to improve HGV driver rests and to create a voluntary standards system which indicates to drivers the comfort level and security of rest stops.
To help with the lack of facilities, the Committee is recommending that the Welsh Government update planning policy so that planning permissions granted to warehouse facilities and other developments expecting regular deliveries or collections are required to provide high quality driver facilities.
Apprenticeships and training
Members of the Committee heard a lot of support for HGV driver apprenticeship programmes from both industry and directly from drivers.
The report is recommending that the Welsh Government work with industry as a matter of urgency to develop HGV drivers Apprenticeship programmes and support the industry to increase the number of training providers available.
Drivers who gave evidence to the Committee also raised concerns about the Certificate of Professional Competence for drivers. An issue mentioned was that the qualification was not relevant for the day to day job.
The Committee agrees that continuous professional development for drivers is positive, and Members think that training and development should help drivers progress though their career. However, the Committee feels that there is strong evidence that the curriculum of this training should be updated.
Paul Davies MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Economy Committee said: “It’s quite clear that HGV drivers play an essential role in the supply chains that support almost every aspect of modern life. Last year we saw what happens when a shortage of HGV drivers causes these supply chains to breakdown – some empty shelves, some closed petrol stations, and some disrupted services.
“Behind the shortages are real people, working very hard to keep the Welsh economy moving and keeping us fed during extremely challenging times. Our inquiry has heard some distressing stories of the conditions that HGV drivers are facing on a daily basis.
“If we do not address the issues then there is little hope for us to recruit new drivers, so today we’re calling on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to improve drivers’ facilities across the country. To safeguard future supply chains the government and industry must work together and address the chronic ongoing shortage of HGV drivers.
“Our report sets out recommendations which we believe will improve drivers’ experience, prospects, recruitment, and retention in order to meet that goal and support our valued HGV drivers.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com