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Macron red-faced over French lorry drivers demand for pay rise to equal post-Brexit UK

3 min read

Lorry driver shortage will benefit UK in long term says Ros Atkins

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New visa regulations as a result of Brexit have been blamed for the lack of lorry drivers and food processors across the UK. There is a predicted shortage of around 100,000 drivers after thousands of European drivers did not return during the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the severe lack of HGV drivers, some supermarkets are promoting haulier jobs with salaries as high as almost £57,000 a year.

Waitrose has increased its salaries to £53,780, plus a £1,000 joining bonus due to a lack of delivery staff.

The upscale supermarket chain said it has raised the wage for drivers by an average of £7,000 in the past 18 months.

Gist, a logistics company that delivers for Tesco, M&S, Aldi, Morrisons and Ocado, is offering annual pay of up to £56,674 for LGV drivers, reports Birmingham Live.

Now, in a damning blow to Mr Macron, French lorry drivers are demanding a pay rise to equal that of Britain.

The inter-union representing the employees of the national collective agreement of road transport (CCNTR) asked to reassess wages and add a 13th month “for all” or else assume “all the consequences”.

The group composed of the CFDT, CGT, FO, CFTC and CFE-CGC wrote: “All sectors of the CCNTR are currently experiencing extreme tension and an unprecedented shortage of employees.

“We can no longer tolerate this lack of consideration”, the inter-union statement underlined, denouncing the quest for “profit to the detriment of the essential players, who tirelessly ensure the continuity of these economic activities.”

The unions called for the “revaluation of all pay scales in all sectors covered by the CCNTR on a minimum basis of two figures”.

They are also campaigning for the introduction of a 13th month.

Currently, everyone in the road transport industry in France is at the minimum wage, except for a small group that is at one cent above the minimum when hired.

This comes after research by Transport Intelligence found the driver shortage is also affecting mainland Europe, with the shortage to be estimated at around 400,000.

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The international road transport organisation, IRU, predicted a gap of 185,000 drivers by 2027 in Germany.

France has also faced a similar crisis with the country facing a shortage of approximately 43,000 drivers since 2019.

The shortfall in Italy in 2019 was estimated to be around 15,000.

In the UK, Richard Walker, the managing director of Iceland, and John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, both warned time is running out for the issue to be resolved.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents big retailers, urged Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to help with the shortfall of heavy goods vehicle drivers by providing temporary visas for EU drivers.

The Government introduced a seasonal worker visa scheme in December for 30,000 workers, primarily for the summer fruit picking season, but meat processors were excluded.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association, said the shortage of drivers needs urgent Government action and firms have offered better incentives and pay deals to secure potential recruits

He said: “Certainly drivers’ pay is increasing, often by quite substantial amounts.

“This in turn is a cost that will need to be passed on, and given the tight profit margins of most haulage operators that means their rates to customers will have to go up.

“In turn, this may mean more of us paying higher prices for goods, services and shopping – including food prices – going forward.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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