Britain’s largest union has called for a better deal for HGV drivers amid warnings that some are being forced to put themselves and the public at risk by working more than a whopping 60 hours a week.
Unite launched a new charter on 23 January, calling for a maximum 48-hour working week for professional drivers and an end to minimum wage pay in the profession.
The organisation is urging haulage firms to sign up to the charter. Unite says: “Regulations that are intended to protect the safety and health of drivers are now seen as a target to be achieved by employers. 48-hour average is not a maximum but employers expect this to be the minimum time our drivers spend at work.”
The charter also calls for good health and safety standards and full enforcement of all road regulations, “making our roads safe for us all to work and use”.
Adrian Jones, Unite national officer said: “Low pay rates mean drivers are being forced to take chances, working long hours just to make ends meet.”
“Accidents are quite literally waiting to happen because employers are refusing to play fair. We need minimum standards across the industry to end the race to the bottom and keep Britain’s roads safe.”
Cliff Henden, a professional driver for more than 50 years, and chair of the Unite Hire and Reward section, said: “HGV drivers are very highly trained. It’s a scandal that many are paid no more than the minimum wage.”
Employers of professional drivers must pay close attention to the hours their drivers work, to prevent drivers exceeding permitted hours, potentially endangering the driver and other road users and exposing them to risk of prosecution.
Where drivers’ hours rules are broken, employers may also find themselves subject to an improvement notice or probation notice. For more information please contact Palmers’ health and safety team”