Unite the Union has warned that changes to lorry cabotage is set to cause “exploitation and misery” to drivers across the UK if approved.
The union said that the current rules restrict European haulage companies from contracting their workers to do more than two deliveries in the UK before returning to Europe.
According to the organisation, the proposed changes to the law will allow companies to send drivers out for unlimited collections and deliveries over a single fortnight.
It added that there are no additional safeguards such as guaranteed accommodation for workers during their time in the country, paving the way for “exploitation of drivers.”
The move comes as the UK is currently suffering from a deficit of 100,000 HGV drivers, with the average age within the profession is reportedly being 55 years old.
The government has recently issued 5000 temporary visas for short-term drivers to enter the UK to alleviate the crisis.
However, the industry is struggling to hire new recruits and upskill a domestic HGV workforce.
Unite has cited fears that government desperation will lead to poor conditions and lack of safety for foreign drivers as they enter the UK.
“Instead of tackling low pay and poor conditions the government is instead sponsoring the exploitation of drivers and undercutting the terms and conditions on Britain’s roads,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.
The union has also expressed concerns that without the government stepping in to guarantee minimum working conditions, drivers will potentially be made to live and sleep in their cabs.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones added: “The bottom line is that unless European hauliers are prepared to invest in proper accommodation for their drivers they will be forced to live in their cabs for an entire fortnight.
“This will be a miserable, exhausting existence for them and once again raises safety issues for all UK road users.”