Lorry drivers are planning a protest at the port of Liverpool in a row over toilet and catering facilities.
Hauliers are describing the conditions at the port as “inhumane” with a lack of acceptable services for drivers who are often at the end of long journeys.
The protest is schedules to take place on Friday morning, outside the main entrance to the Royal Seaforth Container Dock.
The hauliers are backed by their trade union UNITE who have advised reporters that the dock owner, Peel Ports, has shown zero interest in improving the unacceptable facilities for hauliers.
Unite’s regional officer for transport in the North West, Colin Carr, says he has not yet received any response to a letter sent to Port management in early December.
Mr Carr also said that the union has been looking to raise the issue for more than a year and members have decided now is the time to take action.
Port management are insisting, however, that they have not received a letter.
Mr Carr said: “These guys can’t just leave the lorries. Security and the police would take a dim view of an unattended lorry.”
He told the reporters that the absence of any facilities for drivers becomes even more critical when delays at the port mean that long queues of lorries form along Regent Road and Dunningsbridge Road.
He added: “You get this stack of lorries, it happens on a regular basis. There is nowhere to go.”
Mr Carr said that Peel Ports should provide toilet, shower and catering facilities for drivers in a secure location inside the docks complex.
He added: “It’s inhumane. Even if they put a couple of portable toilets along, it would be better. Huge swathes of land along that dock are not used. They could easily have a lay-down area. It’s not beyond the wit and purse-strings of Peel Ports.”
The results of the HGV driver shortage survey 2016 highlighte poor facilities as a key cause.
The hauliers say that the nearest available safe and legal lorry parking they can use is at Burtonwood service station on the M62 - which is 20 miles away.
The union is also campaigning for improved facilities for dockworkers. Unite says that hundreds of shift workers often have no access to catering and that other facilities are not acceptable.
Unite’s letter of December 6th, states: “Our dockworkers... have little or no facilities whilst on shift at Seaforth, there is no hot food provision after 14:00 hours or weekends. The eating and seating area provided is totally inadequate leading to congestion at mealtimes whilst three available rooms are out of service. The toilet facilities are also inadequate, with no toilet at all on the first floor level, and the heating system is in disrepair with an irregular operation and when it is on, it has no means of control.”
Mr Carr added, “They keep telling us that we are the most modern port in the UK, a 22nd century port, but they are treating the workers on the dockside and the workers who bring the stuff in and take it away like Victorian gangsters.”
In a statement, a spokesperson from Peel Ports Group said: “We are disappointed by the protest because we have no record of any communications from Unite the Union on or around the month of December 2016. Peel Ports takes full responsibility for the terminals which it operates. We invested £250,000 in refurbishing the amenities block on the container terminals for our third party contractors during 2015 which included toilets, showers and canteen facilities. There are haulier toilets available at customer services and refuelling facilities are currently being built on site. However, the hauliers using Regent Road and Dunningsbridge Road are delivering to our tenants and to terminals that we do not operate. In addition official truck stops offering the requested facilities are available in the area.”
The issue of unacceptable facilities for lorry drivers across the country is regarded as one of the main factors contributing to the HGV driver shortage.