Lorry driver shortage: Strike action threat to demand better working conditions and pay

Lorry driver shortage

Lorry drivers are now in the driving seat when it comes to workers rights.

Lorry drivers employed by Hanson Cement are to be balloted over strike action in a move that could further impact the supply chain in the construction sector.

Staff at Tesco-owned Booker have also indicated they are willing to strike, leveraging their position with the shortage of labour, lorry drivers are now in the driving seat when it comes to workers rights.

Unite is to ballot members on Hanson’s Castle Cement contract- affecting sites like Padeswood in North Wales.

They have rejected a pay offer of 2.5 per cent for this year – saying that with the RPI inflation rate currently at 3.9 per cent, this amounts to a pay cut in real terms.

The drivers deliver dry cement. They supply large construction projects, including Hinkley Point, HS2, Sellafield and Thames Tideway. They also supply building product companies.

The ballot will open on Friday and run for two weeks. If members vote for strike action then industrial action could begin this October.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Our members are simply not going to accept a pay offer which amounts to a pay cut in real terms.

“With the ongoing driver shortage, our members are seeking a pay increase which recognises their hard work and dedication.

“If strikes do occur then it will have major implications for the construction industry. Supplies of cement will quickly run out, which will result in projects being delayed.

“Hanson’s is simply not giving its drivers the respect they deserve.”

Booker Driver’s at its Thamesmead site in south-east London have voted unanimously for strike action

About 40 drivers employed by Booker at its Thamesmead site in south-east London have voted unanimously for strike action in a dispute over pay – a move that risks severe disruption to deliveries at more than 1,500 small shops operating under the Londis and Budgens brands across the capital and the south-east.

Unite, the trade union representing both sets of workers, said the disputes reflected issues with working conditions and pay.

At Booker, the union is poised to issue the employer with notice for strike action but wants to allow time for crunch talks with company bosses later this month that could still avert industrial action.

The dispute centres on the firm paying a temporary £5 an hour uplift for about 40 drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot in response to staff shortages – a move not replicated less than 50 miles away at Thamesmead.

Paul Travers, a Unite regional officer, said the dispute had been “pockmarked by very poor employment relations” with the company. “This is really ‘smell the coffee’ time for the bosses at Booker.”

A Booker spokesman said: “We are naturally disappointed with last week’s ballot result from our Thamesmead drivers but look forward to sitting down with their Unite representatives on 21 September and working together to find a resolution.”

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