@TOrynski sent me a blog which I have transposed into a tweet thread as follows:
Reasons for UK Driver Shortages
1. Brexit itself.
Let’s get that one out of the way straight away. British imports and exports plunged in the months after Brexit. We initially haven’t noticed it
thanks to the stockpiling, but Britain started to run out of its stock. And even if not, the stock still needs to be transported. The EU trucks were responsible for a lot of internal UK transport thanks to cabotage rules.
What does this mean?
Imagine you are arriving in your German trucks and unload your cargo in Coventry. Then you have to load the cargo back to Germany in Glasgow.
To avoid driving empty all the way from Midlands to Scotland you pick a load going that way,
for example with a big distribution centre in Birmingham to a supermarket distribution centre in Scottish central belt.
With fewer EU trucks on GB roads, fewer loads can travel on them. That means GB needs more British trucks (and drivers!) to fulfil its internal transport needs.
2. Brexit’s red tape.
With Britain being out of the European Union now, the incoming trucks need to deal with custom clearances and border controls. This takes time, especially if the country is completely unprepared for it.
Unlike, for example, Switzerland or Norway,
Britain lacks the facilities and trained, experienced staff to deal with the paperwork. That means that in some cases trucks are grounded for days until the paperwork hiccups are straightened up. And unless the wheels are turning, the truck is not making money for its owner.
Therefore many EU companies just gave up on taking freight to Britain altogether. Why would they keep coming here, if they have 27 other countries to shift the goods between, virtually border-free and only the need of the very basic paperwork?
Yes, the Brexiteers and members of the UK government will blame all issues on COVID. And it’s not like it does not play the part. UK Government’s chaotic response to COVID results in the fact, that the UK is seen as a plague island by many in Europe.
The stories about people quarantined in hotels at great expense (apparently a week’s stay in the half-empty airport hotel on London outskirts costs twice as much as all-inclusive holidays in some tropical destination)
& the outrageous scenes that took place around last Christmas
when thousands of drivers were literally imprisoned at the old airport with no food or even basic facilities in place were not making any favours to Britain’s already tarnished reputation as a crap place to come as a driver
4. Migrant situation in Calais.
One can say that situation with migrants in Calais who attack drivers, damage lorries and try to break into the trailers have nothing to do with Britain because those things happen on French soil. I won’t go into the discussion about if it is legal
to prevent people seeking asylum into Britain, let’s just focus on how this situation looks from the driver’s point of view: by coming through Calais one places himself between the hammer and the hard place: if the illegal migrants will be found in the trailer
after the truck crossed the channel, the driver can be arrested and fined for “facilitating illegal entry to the country”. And thanks to the new reform of law proposed by Priti Patel, the prosecution won’t even have to prove that he did it for a profit or knowingly.
On the other hand, if the driver decides to do the British Border Services job, as it’s expected from him, and try to tackle the illegal migration himself by challenging people who try to break into his vehicle, he might be beaten or even killed by them.
No surprise that I hear
more and more drivers, who when taking on new jobs demand guarantees from their employers that they won’t be sent to the UK.
5. Brexit (again).
Let’s be honest. With broken promises
settled status or the need for visas, a hostile environment and the risk of being detained at the border, not many EU drivers would choose to work in Britain any more – imagine you are a Polish driver. Would you rather come to Britain and jump through all the hoops,
or choose any of the well paying EU countries, for example, Germany that, if you live in Western Poland, is just a short drive across (virtually non-existent thanks to Schengen) border? Of course, some still try to come – and Priti Patel’s crew does not make it easy for them.
I’ve been following closely the case of one Polish driver, who lived in Britain for six years before returning to Poland four years ago. According to his lawyers, he has obtained residential status under old rules – and since 5 years haven’t passed yet, he is fully entitled
to apply for settled status. There is only one issue: he cannot do it from Poland, he needs to be physically present in Britain to do that. Unfortunately, on arrival, he was detained at the border and later deported to Poland. All his documents were seized by the home office,
so he was unable to go forward with his Settled Status claim.

Do you think that his case will encourage more jobseekers to come here?

6. Low wages – even compared to Eastern European countries.
When I started my Scottish adventure back in 2005, the van driving jobs
were paying better than minimum wage.
The truck driving jobs in 2006, when I came back with my licence, was near twice that – and that for a class 2 driver with very poor English and no truck driving experience whatsoever. Fast forward 15 years
and class 2 driver is lucky if he lands in the job that pays 20% over minimum wage. Even recent hikes in rates still haven’t brought us to the 2016 levels. Meanwhile, the costs of becoming a truck driver and maintaining one’s qualification have raised – drivers are
now required to undergo periodic training to renew their qualifications every five years, often at their own expense.
Meanwhile, pay rates in Eastern Europe have raised significantly. I dare to say that an experienced truck driver can earn much more in Poland than in Britain
(of course if we recalculated his salary in the light of the purchasing power and costs of living in both countries). Not to mention Western European or Nordic Countries that are also welcoming drivers from that part of Europe.
There is simply a very little financial incentive for Eastern European drivers to come to Britain anymore.
7. Systematic discrimination.
EU drivers who’ll come here will have, of course, driving licences issued by their countries of origin. For many years it was not a problem,
as EU licences are mutually recognized by European countries. Then, with DVLA moving their penalty point system online, EU licence holders become “second class drivers” – while during the time of the paper counterparts they had British counterpart licences issues as everyone else
the computer system leaves them behind: it is impossible to check how many points you have in Britain using DVLA online services.
That puts them in the worse position when competing for jobs with UK licence holders, as many companies, third party licence check service
or insurance companies simply won’t bother with checking the record of the EU licence holder, as it is simply too complicated. Of course, you can solve this problem by exchanging your EU licence for a British one (which, to drive trucks, you have to do after a maximum of 5 years
or when you hit 45 years, whichever is later), but with Brexit, many drivers – younger, or those who just wanted to come here for a short period of time – are not willing to do it now as while EU licence is still valid in Britain, British licences are not valid in the EU any more
which means that they would need to obtain International Driving Licence to go for holidays to their own country, and if they decide to look for a job back in the EU, they cannot even start until they exchange their British licence back.
With Brexit, another hoop to jump through
is also their residency status. It’s an employer’s duty to check if the driver they want to employ is in Britain legally – that mean if he has a visa, or if he has a settled status (for which, the EU citizens who reside in Britain have no physical proof, so it all depends again
on the online services that are known to be down quite often, making it impossible – unless you call that helpdesk that charges you over 10 pounds for 10 minutes). That, again, puts them at a disadvantage when they have to compete for work with natives.
And I know, there is a driver shortage, so the jobs are plentiful, but remember that there are good and bad jobs around…
8. Everyday discrimination.
Brexit had opened a black hole into the deepest layers of British society that we haven’t seen before. The level of harassment
has risen to unprecedented levels. If you were European, would you really want to come to the country where at every step – from dealing with Home Office and Border Forces to the trip to your local pub – you can be reminded in a very clear manner, that you’re not welcome here?
9. Money.
You can see point 6. Everything mentioned there applies. But from the point of view of a GB person the choice is often between becoming a driver & choosing a different career
With the cost of obtaining even a class 2 licence at around 1000 pounds right now, you’ll have to fork out a significant sum of money – often beyond the capabilities of the young person entering the work market – even before you start. Apprenticeships in that industry are rare
and even if the employer offers to fund the training for the incomer, it usually ends up in being tied with working for them for 2 years or so – and the fact that the employer has to fund training to the new drivers usually signals, that they struggle to get experienced drivers
which often indicates that they are not exactly the best company to work for in the first place.
So why would one save up a grand to become a truck driver and do hard work for long hours at the pay comparable to a shop assistant in Aldi, if there is plenty of college courses and
apprenticeships that help the candidate to become a plumber or an electrician with much higher earning potential? Most of the young people who enter the industry are therefore those, who are lured by the romantic idea of being a driver.
10. Being a driver is not fun anymore
But the driver’s job is no longer a romantic adventure. It’s not all about driving towards the setting sun with the roar of your V8 engine. More often than not it is just hard graft for the big company that saves as much as possible on vehicles and for which you are only a number
And there is not much freedom left either – the drivers are dictated about the exact route they have to choose, and thanks to the developments in telemetry, their driving style is under constant observation (I wrote about it here).
The long-distance jobs –
which were often the magnet that brought people to the industry – are also becoming sparse. With the growth of the intermodal transport and container industry, bigger and bigger percentage of jobs becoming a boring, repetitive journeys between the port and some warehouse,
or from the local distribution centre to the shops in the few hours drive range.
11. Constant surveillance.
But if you think the computer system rating your fuel consumption is bad or having to answer phones from the toilet when an angry traffic manager demands to know
why have you stopped five minutes ago, then you will definitely not like the newest trend in the industry: constant surveillance. And I am not talking about CCTV cameras on the motorways or GPS trackers installed in vehicles.
The British Haulier Maritime Transport decided to mount a CameraMatics system in every single truck in their fleet. The cameras aimed at the driver’s face will not only seek for the signs of fatigue but also allow their superiors to spy on him at any time in real-time.
When a Polish startup invented a device that monitored customer services agents in a bank to check if they are smiling enough, it sparked an outrage, the media were all about some Orwellian nightmare of constant surveillance. As a result, the company had to fold
(blaming COVID, of course).
Meanwhile, drivers will have a camera pointed at their face at all times. The cameras, which they cannot control, will be installed in the space where they undress, sleep, eat etc – as for many drivers their cab is also their home.
12. Drivers are one of the most strictly controlled jobs around.
Imagine you are a nurse. You were supposed to come off duty at 8 pm, but you stayed a bit longer because one of your patients needed some extra help. On your way to the locker room, you were stopped by
Nurse and Doctors Standards Agency agent, who demanded to see your timesheet for the last month. He has noticed that it is not the first time you stayed longer at work, he also noticed that you carried some items in the wrong way.
That was the last straw: apparently, you don’t show enough care about the health and safety of your patients. You worked longer hours than allowed, which means you are putting their lives in danger. You’ll be issued a fine, about three months worth of your earnings, and
until you pay, you will be locked in a broom closet. Sounds absurd, right? Well, this is the norm in the road haulage industry. Even minor infringements to driver’s working time, if regular (which is not hard to occur, as drivers are pressed to max their driving hours
in unpredictable traffic and the availability of safe parking spots for them to take their breaks is very limited) can incur hefty fines and the vehicle might end up impounded which – if we remember this is the driver’s home when on the road and his only mean of transport –
means that the driver becomes stranded together with it.
13. Health and Safety going crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that health and safety rules are for a reason and the safety of everyone is paramount. The point is: not all of them
Some are just to protect the company from insurance claims (for example I’ve been to many places where drivers are not allowed on the bed of their lorry – even though climbing up there is often the only way to secure their load, which results in trucks
leaving the sites with unsecured loads only to park around the corner and secure it in a public space, full of traffic and random pedestrians).
Some of the rules are counterproductive – about a decade ago, I had regular deliveries to London’s Olympic Village
when it was still under construction. As you might know, it was not a village, it was the size of a small town – with junctions and traffic lights. Yet, some pen pushers came with the idea that every vehicle that is not fitted with an orange beacon on the roof
has to use its hazard lights when driving. That of course means that most of the vehicles present in that busy place were unable to indicate their intended direction, so the problem was solved by placing attendants at the busiest junctions who were asking drivers where they want
to go and then informing other vehicles in the vicinity about it. I still don’t understand what is the point – if someone is unable to see a 20-tonne lorry driving at 10 mph, then I doubt the fact that it has its hazard lights on will change anything.
But my personal “favourite”
is Glensanda Quarry near Oban, where when you come to their Goods In the warehouse, you are required to wear high-visibility trousers. Since, unlike hi-vis jackets those are not a standard issue for the drivers – other than those involved in traffic management or road works etc.,
you are forced to wear the ones they have in stock for you: dirty, mouldy, often wet, “one size fits all” baggy trousers that fall off your hips and force you to hold them up with one of your hands. Because, you know, safety. It’s a quarry after all.
Except it’s not.
The goods-in warehouse is located at the shores of Loch Cernan, the quarry itself is almost 10 miles away as the crow flies, on the Morvern peninsula. The workers and equipment are shipped there by a dedicated ferry, that still has to sail around the Isle of Lismore.
And so, the driver is forced to wear those stupid trousers & risk tripping over them, why the quarry crew, in their civilian clothes, sandals & flip flop cross the same area on their way from the ferry to their cars (the unloading area doubles as a car park as well). Stupid, eh?
Well, go there and try to complain, let’s see how far it will take you.
14. Nobody respects drivers. They are constantly shouted at, humiliated and suspected of being thieves.
I am not talking about all those drivers angry that a truck dares to slow them down.
I am not talking about you, the old lady, who abused me and called me names for “taking this giant juggernaut through such a small residential street” only to found I have four pallets of windows you’ve ordered for your conservatory expansion.
There is a reason why RDC’s – regional distribution centres – are universally hated by the drivers. While those huge warehouses would be unable to exist without their work, they are treated as the necessary evil. Even being just a bit late can cause a huge problem for the driver,
and often incur a hefty penalty fine for his employer. Yet, this does not work in the other way. Waiting for hours to be loaded/unloaded is just about norm, and it is nothing unheard of that drivers are held in the site for days, because, for example,
“there is no space in the warehouse to unload them” – which, basically, mean that the distribution company uses their trucks as a free short-term storage unit. On arrivals drivers have to report to the office when they are greeted, more often than not, by typical office drones
who don’t even bother to answer to polite “hello”. They have to submit their truck keys – for “safety” of course – & are not allowed back to their trucks until loading/unloading finishes. If they have a waiting area with airport-style benches, drink machine & TV it’s not so bad
, but often they are forced to sit on benches or plastic chairs in an empty room with no windows, or, like in this recently famous case from Spain – in a literal 2m x 2m CAGE. After the outraged driver filmed the place where he was forced to remain for four hours,
the company reacted swiftly: his employer lost the contract, as only drivers with no dignity are welcomed there. Of course, they had no choice but to provide their personal data on the entrance to the facility, and are subject to be searched on their way out.
Because they cannot be trusted, they are drivers so they might be thieves. But it does not work the other way round, nobody cares that the driver has all his belonging in the cab of their trucks, they are still required to give they keys upon arrival
(I know some drivers, who simply carry a spare, old set of keys from some scrapped truck just to give it to the office clerks). The periodic CPC training is a specific case of the drivers being made to feel disrespected. Most of the training, at least in the UK, is pure fiction,
everyone knows that it is only about drivers paying money in exchange for the scrap of paper that they cannot work without. The training, which in most cases is just some guy talking about a few photoshop slides, is often humiliating for the experienced drivers who have to
sit in the class and listen to the rubbish told them by a young guy or girl who has absolutely no clue what he or she is talking about (I am speaking from my own experience here). This is genuinely the reason why many of the old hands decided to retire
when their “grandparent rights” expired. They just cannot be arsed to go through this circus.
15. Lack of facilities for truck drivers.
While some major European routes are lacking sufficient parking facilities for trucks – especially near the border of Germany and Netherlands
– the infrastructure for truckers in Europe is much more superior to what is on offer on the British roads. Big, spacious motorway service areas with many facilities, small motorway parking with easily available toilets, cheap roadside restaurants offering good food,
truckstops with part shops, supermarkets and laundrettes or even open-air gyms dedicated to truckers make their lives much easier. Meanwhile in Britain… well. There must be a reason why one of the most popular entries on my blog is the one answering the question …
“how to use a toilet on a British motorway” – you can find it here. The parking facilities on the motorway are lacking – and, unlike in most of Europe, you have to pay (and a lot) to use them, meanwhile, a typical British truck stop is some dusty yard full of potholes
on the side of some industrial estate with a portaloo and a “greasy spoon” burger van parked next to it…
Being a British truck driver & eating healthy is a big challenge. .
Read the rest of @TOrynski 's excellent blog here orynski.eu/20-reasons-why…
I'll just add this from another blog
"(HGV test) delays can be counted in weeks (Poland) or at worst months (Ireland), not in years, like in UK, where the tests are not considered essential service and no exams are being conducted for nearly a year now"

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More from @vivamjm

15 Jul
I bet the "brexit' named issues in this report (some of us long predicted) do not make the UK headline news

"More than half (56%) of UK hauliers are considering moving their operations to the EU"
Alleviating the shortage across EU even further; making the shortage in GB yet worse.
"Almost a third (31%) say they are avoiding working with the food & drinks industry, due to increased checks & admin on products. Other sectors impacted include livestock farming (25%), agricultural farming (25%), gardening supplies (19%) & retail (13%)."
This will get worse as..
Read 5 tweets
14 Jul
He said: “Speaking to a local fish factory in my constituency, they tell me that were once a mere delivery note used to suffice they now need a catch certificate. “They also need packing lists, they need commodity codes, they need the scientific names on the consignments 1/
they need a commercial invoice, they need import/export declaration form, they need to pay the French government VAT and also a health certificate.”
My question *once again* is why is anybody having to speak to anybody about what was always coming for sales outside the SM&CU 2/
regardless of the/any bloody ("Canada Style") FTA deal !!
He added: “Were once 32p per kilo was the export cost to get product to the continent, it has now trebled to a £1 a kilo.” pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/politi…
Read 4 tweets
14 Jul
Spot the differences then and now
It's the Summer of 2019 and up & coming Derry band "The Overtones" set off on a mini tour of UK & mainland Europe. They threw all their equipment in a Transit van with little thought and picked up vast amounts of promotional CDs & other material
in post gig London. Before leaving Dover they stocked up with Tesco pork pies & other animal ingredients favourites after a quick gig in a very muddy festival field. They didn't bother washing their van. After successful gigs in Brussels & Cologne where Mr Whaley treated
himself to a new guitar they had a small road accident in France where they had to quickly replace a buckled door (deciding to have it resprayed to same colour when back in Derry). In Paris the drummer became Ill and had to fly home with his precious (un) lucky drumsticks .
Read 7 tweets
7 Jul
Fuck Health & (Road) Safety...and the reason for introducing driving limits & longer journeys in the first place.
& less rigorous pass rates.
Brexit at any cost ...
Yet another of Michael M's predictions unfolds ..
into the always coming ever more desperate reality.
..in conjunction with severely fatigued & majority
(under-trained) inexperienced drivers
you can also look forward to 50 tonners.
Read 5 tweets
6 Jul
I remember at school (the ones with blackboard dusters ..thrown with uncanny accuracy by our capricious Latin teacher. & wooden lift up lid desks) we used to debate 'how could the Germans allow the incremental rise of the Nazis to power'?
You *are* living it.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jul
More of that "Project Fear"..
Nobody wants to/dare expose the Emperor's New Clothes

What a tragic farce the whole thing is.

"Suez" a tiny footnote for future historians as they debate that time UK imposed major economic sanctions
...upon itself
(& its own break up)
Read 4 tweets

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