How will new immigration plans affect haulage

Published: 05 October 2016

How will new immigration plans affect haulage
The Home Secretary revealed parts of her plan to tackle immigration at the Conservative party conference yesterday in a bid to encourage businesses to “prevent migrants taking jobs British people can do”.
 
She said she would review whether to tighten the test businesses have to take before they recruit abroad.
 
Under new rules businesses will have to be clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international.
 
She added: “The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do.”
 
With the haulage industry employing a large proportion of foreign HGV drivers will this have an effect on the industry?
 
There are agency’s which advertise UK HGV driver jobs in Eastern Europe almost constantly with a number of the large industry players taking advantage of the lower cost to employ non UK HGV drivers. 
 
Will this change now in view of the Home Secretary’s plans to “prevent migrants taking jobs British people can do”?
 
There has been talk of a HGV driver shortage in the UK and that is the reason why these companies are recruiting abroad, however if we delve deeper in to the data we can see there is no such shortage. 
 
According to the data there are approximately 80,000 people with a Category C or C + E HGV licence and a valid Driver CPC, aged between 25 – 44, in the UK who are not enrolled as HGV drivers.
 
Furthermore there are 90,000 people aged 25 – 34 holding C or C + E licences, who do not have a valid Driver CPC. All these people would be able to work as UK HGV drivers with if they just completed the Driver CPC.
 
There are several reasons contributing to the shortage of eligible people choosing to be HGV drivers in the UK and one of those reasons is the low wages. 
 
The Labour government opened the floodgates to the EU workforce around 10 years ago and since then an influx of foreign HGV drivers who are willing to work for much less has made it very difficult for a UK HGV driver or HGV owner driver to make a good wage. 
 
Haulage operators are choosing to recruit in drivers from the likes of Poland and Lithuania as they can pay them less rather than opting for home grown drivers. Due to this wages within the industry seem to have stayed low even though there is high demand for drivers.
 
Are we now going to see haulage operators ‘forced’ to hire home grown HGV drivers rather than Eastern European ones and if so how will this affect haulage rates?
 
If operators have to hire UK drivers they will have to pay a higher wage than what they currently do to their Eastern European counter parts. This would inevitably increase the rates of haulage activities across the country, which would then result in those higher costs being passed along the supply chain to the consumer.
 
If wages were the same scale across the industry regardless of country of origin then the Home Secretary’s plans would be welcomed I’m sure, however this doesn’t always seem to be the case in the haulage industry.
 
Only time will tell how these plans will affect the industry and haulage rates overall.
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