Thursday, January 13, 2022

Union and Road Haulage Lobby React to Government Extension to Longer Drivers' Hours

Mixed Feelings as Transport Operators Act Sensibly On Potential Safety Risks
Shipping News Feature

UK – The news that the government has authorised a further temporary relaxations of drivers' hours, a measure which took effect from 12:01am on 12 January 2022 until 11:59pm on 10 February 2022, subject to review, has incensed the transport union RMT.

Freed from the restrictions imposed by EU regulations, when the relaxation was first announced to aid the problems caused by the chronic shortage of HGV drivers it was met by howls of protest from across the logistics sector as it obviously had ramifications for public safety. Responding to the announcement RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

“This extension to the previous extension of HGV drivers’ hours is utterly reckless and dangerous by the Department for Transport and is essentially an admission of a complete failure by the government to ensure the road haulage sector is not facing a double whammy of labour shortages and increased absences caused by the Omicron variant.

“I am calling on the government to establish a taskforce with transport unions to explore ways of tackling the long-term problems with working conditions and driver retention in the haulage sector rather than kicking the can down the road and implementing these dangerous short-term measures.”

This extension to HGV driver’s hours follows a similar move last year and RMT claim that the Government could act to make these changes permanent rather than an emergency measure to deal with the supply chain crisis that began last Summer. The RMT says it is also furious that the Department for Transport gave transport unions just 24 hours to respond to their consultation on these changes.

Rod McKenzie, Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) took a more measured approach when speaking to us, saying:

”We have never been in favour of these extended hours, tired drivers are not a good idea. However when speaking to our members we have found that most haulage operators are treating this legislation very much as an emergency measure, and not a matter of routine.

”These companies are acting sensibly and, although we at the RHA are not fans of this policy, we understand why it has been adopted.”

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