UK HGV driver shortage pushes up pay as hauliers attempt to stem employee ‘musical chairs’

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The huge shortage of HGV drivers in the UK is pushing up pay as hauliers start introducing retention charges on bills. 

Tensions are said to be rising within the industry with the low numbers of available, trained drivers playing ‘musical chairs’ – something hauliers are looking to head off by adding ‘driver retention surcharges’ of around £65 per load to customer bills to directly boost employee pay. 

One provider, speaking to Loadstar, said that the extra charges were on top of a 20% pay increase to his drivers. Smaller firms are warning that they’re being priced out of the market, whilst others have forewarned that the busy Christmas period could see huge disruption. 

“Despite this increase, every haulier we deal with told us that from September there would be surcharges of between £50-65 per load,” the forwarder said.

“I cannot bear to think what December and peak season build-up will be like for container haulage when it is already this bad. Our hauliers told us this was a purely non-profit move, the money going directly to drivers to stop them taking more lucrative offers from larger firms.”

The government has this month urged UL firms to train and hire British drivers to fill what’s estimated to be 100,000 vacancies in the sector, driven by a combination of EU workers returning back to mainland Europe following Brexit, and a lengthy delay in driver training brought on by the pandemic.

Read more: Post-Brexit trade imbalance as exports from Ireland to GB soar

They are also considering bringing forward a review of its Shortage of Occupation list to tackle the issue by assessing which jobs the UK will be more lenient in allowing overseas workers to apply for visas for. 

Morrison’s CEO David Potts noted to the BBC that: “Maybe look at a list of people who come into the country to work, maybe add the drivers to that list for a while, see how we get on with that, because we need to break the back of the issue in order to keep what is a great supply chain working in Britain.”

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