‘Fed up now!’ Lorry drivers’ quitting en masse over red tape as they lament UK treatment

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The UK and other countries in the EU faced a shortage of lorry drivers since the end of last year. Now more and more experienced HGV drivers are leaving the profession.

Speaking to the Independent, a group of drivers said they had become fed up at the way they are viewed in the UK, as well as the increase in paperwork while entering and leaving Britain.

Colin Merrick, a lorry driver with 36 years of experience in the industry said: “There is a lot of bureaucracy and red tape now for us drivers. I have to check all the relevant paperwork before I go into Calais. It takes longer and longer to do.

“Sometimes the left and right hand aren’t speaking to each other. Something can be checked on one side and it’s fine, you get to the other side and it’s not. The system allows them to just park you up.”

He went on to complain about conditions in the UK, saying that in many service stations they do not even get refreshments.

He said: “We drive 44-tonne killing machines. We are professionals, and in Europe we are treated like professionals, but in the UK we aren’t. You don’t even get a cup of coffee at most services here.

“All we are is a pain to everybody on the road, we are seen as a boil on the backside of life.”

Lorry driver Jason echoed: “The pressures facing drivers now mean younger drivers can’t be bothered getting into the profession anymore. Companies don’t want to hear about the issues, the same goes for governments.

“Drivers from top to bottom are treated with utter disdain, we are second-class citizens.

“A lot of drivers turn to drink to numb the pain, some take drugs. I have known drivers to kill themselves partly because they think there is no way out.”

Michael Thompson, a 62-year-old haulier from Lancashire also said there are no local facilities for drivers.

He said: “You’ve got a portaloo if you’re lucky.

“Even when everything’s running OK [through the port], there’s nowhere to park in Kent if you need a driving break because they are putting clamps and giving tickets, for people parking in lay-bys.”

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He added: “I have seen a lot of drivers whose mental health is suffering. They are fed up with it now.”

In June 2021, reports emerged of a 100,000 lorry driver shortage as Brexit immigration rules, coronavirus restrictions and an ageing workforce created a perfect storm of vacancies.

Speaking to Express.co.uk’s Kyle Farrell, Rod McKenzie, director of the Road Haulage Association, said that while the lifting of restrictions had helped testing and the awarding of licences, industry figures suggest there is still a shortfall of 85,000 people.

Mr McKenzie added the situation would take “years to fix” but believed there would be no repeat of the petrol shortages seen last year.

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He explained: “We are a bit better on the lorry driver situation at the moment but it is a long term issue.

“Essentially, what happened since June when we said that there were about 100,000 vacancies in terms of drivers we needed…

“That’s gone down to about 85,000 and that’s because of an improvement in the testing regime.

“Also in the licencing operation and some more drivers coming onto the books either as new or returning drivers.

“So it’s a help, but it’s a long term issue, it will take years to fix because any industry that’s missing 85,000 staff is going to notice it for a long time and it is going to take a long time to fix.”

Several companies have reported losses due to the lorry driver shortages.

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