HGV crisis: IDS hits out at 'addiction' to cheap labour
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Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has argued the blame for the shortage of lorry drivers in the UK rests with the haulage industry. It comes amid moves to deploy the British army to plug a chronic shortage in tanker drivers which has led to panic at petrol stations. Sir Iain claimed to LBC the UK haulage industry has based their businesses around an “addiction to cheap labour” rather than Brexit.
Sir Iain told LBC: “I have to say, the hauliers must take a massive measure of their own responsibility in this shortage.
“What they got into the habit of, and I’m afraid this is the problem, is cheap labour.
“Actually a problem for the whole of the UK for years has been, this addiction to cheap labour.
“There’s been some very stupid institutional thinking but also the hauliers have hot to take a serious measure of the blame”, the Tory MP added.
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Mr Duncan Smith acknowledged that “Brexit may make it a little less flexible to come across the border” but argued, “this was all massively exposed because of Covid“.
He also blamed HGV drivers who had “pondered away on furlough both here and abroad as to whether or not they wanted to come back and do the driving” and subsequently not returned to work.
It comes after Andrew Eburne, managing director of J Coates HGV Services Ltd, has told GB News that, far from the lorry driver shortage being a result of the UK leaving the bloc, Britons are “incentivised” to apply for driver jobs as pay has increased.
Mr Eburne told GB News: “Brexit is a good thing for the industry or a good thing for the country as regards to the driver situation.
“Before Brexit, the industry was relying on cheap labour coming in from Europe. No doubt about that.
“Which then prevented or it did not incentivise UK citizens to do those jobs because they didn’t feel that it was paid enough.
“Now the wages are going through the roof we get inundated with phone calls with people wanting to be drivers.”
Almost 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – have been undertaking training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation at petrol stations, which Government ministers insist is stabilising.
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Mr Eburne continued: “We are seeing on a daily basis a lot of older drivers coming back to the industry because the wages are going up.
“They have gone away done something else and come back.
“There are guys who just want to do part-time work, it gives you such a wide variety of work.
“There is always going to be a need for drivers.”
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