Haulier feeling ‘ripple effect’ of driver shortage

A family-run Berkshire haulier firm is feeling the “ripple effect” of the ongoing issues caused by a lack of HGV drivers.

Pete White, transport manager and director of White’s Transport Ltd in Hungerford, said that companies like supermarkets are looking to headhunt drivers from smaller firms by offering them more money.

However, he said drivers are also staying put at smaller firms as they “get treated better”.

READ MORE: Government under pressure to act as HGV driver shortage hits fuel deliveries

The national shortage of drivers has hit the headlines as it has led to fuel shortages and supermarkets running very low on food.

The government denies the shortage is as a result of Brexit.

However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has previously estimated that about 20,000 European driver s have left the UK since Britain’s divorce from the European Union, bringing the country’s total shortage to 100,000.

Mr White said: “Every one of our trucks is filled and we’re able to do our deliveries.

“So while we’re not directly affected by the shortage, there is this ‘ripple effect’ we’re starting to notice where drivers are approached by supermarkets who can pay them better than we do.

“But the good news is a lot of them aren’t interested, because they get treated so badly working for bigger companies.

“We’re a family-fun business who make sure our drivers are well looked after.”

He added he felt the shortages were being exaggerated by the national media and groups like the RHA, creating “panic and hysteria”.

He said: “The problem in this industry is the way lorry drivers are treated – everyone frowns upon it. This is why people get fed up with it.

“In Europe lorry drivers are well looked after.

“It is a hard job, our drivers regularly do 15 hour days, starting at 4am and finishing at 7pm.

“You spend a lot of time away and you end up sleeping in your lorry.”

He said the main issue lorry drivers face is long waits to unload, and if that was solved there supply chain would be so much more efficient.

“Instead, they turn up at places and have to wait for seven hours before they can unload.

“If there was an instant unload system in place it would make the job so much easier.”

‘I didn’t go home for three months’

Brian Kingsbury, driver for White’s Transport Ltd

Brian Kingsbury, one of White’s drivers, is now 70 and has been in the industry for 40 years.

He said he’d had some “brilliant times and some rubbish times” during his career.

He said: “I’ve been to so many different places.

“As far north as Finland and as as far south as North Africa. Places you’d never normally go.

“The job has changed massively, mainly the rules and regulations we now have to adhere to.

“Health and Safety for example, which I support as a concept but sometimes feel doesn’t equate to common sense.

“The other is how service stations have changed. You very rarely see transport cafes nowadays – they’ve all gone.

“Now all service stations are catered for fast food. You don’t always want a burger and chips.

“In the old days you could sit down and get meat and two veg or whatever.

“You’re also paying £30 to park in places overnight where you get literally nothing.

“I’d still recommend it to a young person though.

“You have to like your own company.

“There was one period where I was driving from Dover to Greece, back to Dover and then somewhere else in Europe, then back again re-loading and going somewhere else.

“I didn’t go home for three months.”

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