The government’s plan to extend HGV driver hours is not solving supply chain issues and is dangerous, Unite has warned.
The trade union has expressed concerns over the government’s snap consultation exercise on extending the relaxation on the driving regulations from 9 January until 6 February.
Since July, the government has been relaxing driving hour regulations due to labour shortages which has recently been exasperated by the Omicron variant and an increase in sickness absence.
Under the government’s relaxation, drivers can drive up to 11 hours a day instead of the normal 10 maximum and can drive 99 hours a fortnight with reduced rest periods.
Through a Freedom of Information request, the trade union has revealed the government’s failure to undertake an impact assessment on the effect of the extended hours on drivers’ health and road safety, as it is a “temporary measure”.
“The government’s failure to undertake an impact assessment on relaxing the driver regulations, while pretending it is a temporary measure, is a dereliction of leadership and demonstrates that it is pretending that forcing workers to drive for longer is risk free.” Unite national officer for road haulage Adrian Jones said.
Unite have estimated that 600 drivers leave the industry every week and that further relaxation on driving hours would make “a bad situation even worse”.
The union has also revealed that the relaxation has been ineffective with just 154 companies out of thousands extending driving hours.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: “Rather than constantly relaxing driving regulations, the government needs to finally begin to address the issues of long hours, excessive and irregular shift patterns and the lack of welfare and parking facilities that has created the driver shortage crisis in the first place.”