New U.K. Emergency Post-Brexit Truckers Measure Slammed by Lobby
(Bloomberg) -- Emergency measures to alleviate Britain’s post-Brexit trucker shortage by extending relaxed rules on working hours for European Union drivers will just make roads unsafe without fixing the problem, a lobby group warned.
To ease what it described as “pressures on local and national supply chains,” the U.K. Department for Transport on Friday announced that it will prolong what was originally a month-long easement -- beginning Jul. 12 -- to Oct. 3. Until then, drivers must stop working after 10 hours, instead of the usual nine.
“This is short-termism at its worst,” said Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs of the Road Haulage Association, who cautioned that the response threatens road safety. The perception of poorer labor conditions for drivers will actually exacerbate recruitment issues, with knock-on effects for supply chains, he added.
The double whammy of Brexit and Covid-19 has worsened a long-standing labor shortage in the U.K. haulage industry stemming from an aging workforce, high training costs and low margins. In 2020, there were 76,000 fewer drivers than needed, a figure that has since risen to 90,000, according to Logistics U.K., another lobby group.
Since the U.K. left the European Union, industries from hospitality to agriculture have had to adapt to a sudden reduction in cheap labor from the bloc. The driver shortage has been blamed for gaps on supermarket shelves.
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