Lorry driver strike warnings at Tesco and cement giant Hanson threaten more shortages in the shops and on building sites as supermarket customers are left ‘sick and tearful’ by sight of empty shelves
- Hundreds of HGV drivers working for Tesco and Hanson set for industrial action
- Thousands of shops across London and south East now expecting disruption
- Move will spark further fears of lorry driver shortage amid UK supply chain crisis
- Supermarket customers admit they are ‘sick and tearful’ seeing empty shelves
HGV drivers at a leading supermarket and cement giant have threatened industrial action amid Britain’s supply chain crisis, as customers admit they feel ‘sick and tearful’ at the continued sight of empty shelves.
A collective of lorry drivers at Tesco’s Booker distribution network and over 200 drivers at cement producer Hanson are warning they are prepared to strike over continued pay disputes and working conditions.
Meanwhile, the drivers who deliver construction equipment to projects across the country, including HS2 railway, Thames Tideway super sewer project and Hinkley Point nuclear power plant are also threatening industrial action.
Union leaders are warning that disputes over growing pay gaps could risk contributing to the current crippling lack of HGV driver supply in the UK.
Up to 1,500 Londis and Budgens stores across London and south East now face the prospect of delivery shortages after unionised drivers unanimously agreed to strike over pay concerns.
Shoppers have already raised their concerns over rapidly-emptying supermarket shelves online, with one person going so far as to say they feel ‘sick and tearful’ when doing their weekly shop.
Hundreds of HGV drivers at a leading UK supermarket and cement giant have threatened new industrial action amid Britain’s supply chain crisis. [File picture]
Booker drivers deliver products under the Budgens and Londis brands, with any fallout expected to hit those 1,500 convenience stores in the south east region hardest
Other retailers have also warned they are facing ‘increased pressure’ to keep supermarket shelves fully stocked during a national shortage of approximately 100,000 HGV drivers
Shoppers are being warned there could be empty shelves in up to 1,500 small shops across London and the south east after a union warned HGV drivers would go on strike over a pay discrepancy.
Concerned consumers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration.
Sharing pictures of her local supermarket’s desolate shelves, one person wrote: ‘This was the Tesco that I shop in yesterday. I felt sick and tearful.’
Another posted an image of empty vegetable aisles in Sainsbury’s, alongside two laughing emojis.
Tesco implemented a £5-an-hour pay rise for drivers at its Booker Wholesale depot in Hemel Hempstead but refused to pay a similar increase to HGV drivers at its Thamesmead site, Unite said.
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.’
At the same time, drivers and engineers working for cement giant Hanson have rejected a 2.5 per cent pay rise offer – with Unite arguing the move amounted to a ‘hefty pay cut’.
The so-called ‘pingdemic’, a backlog of HGV driving tests and driver shortages as EU drivers returned home have all devastated the UK supply chain this summer.
The Road Haulage Association warned in late July that there was a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, which has been hampering deliveries of food from warehouses to supermarkets.
Last month, Iceland said they’d had up to 40 deliveries a day cancelled, while fast food chain Nando’s was forced to temporarily close 50 sites because of supply issues and McDonald’s stopped selling milkshakes.
Hundreds of shoppers have already raised their concerns over empty supermarket shelves online, with one person going so far as to say they feel ‘sick and tearful’ at the sight
It comes after the Road Haulage Association warned in late July that there was a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, which has been hampering deliveries of food from warehouses to supermarkets (file photo)
Other retailers have also warned they are facing ‘increased pressure’ to keep supermarket shelves fully stocked during a national shortage of approximately 100,000 HGV drivers.
Thousands of prospective drivers are waiting for their HGV tests due to a backlog caused by lockdown, while many existing ones have left the UK after Brexit.
The problem has been exacerbated by Covid, with drivers having to go into self-isolation amid the so-called ‘pingdemic’.
Earlier this summer, the Army was placed on standby to help cope with Britain’s food shortages – after 2,000 HGV drivers from the Royal Logistics Corps were placed on a five-day notice to help distribute food, medicines and other essential supplies.
It comes after the Government temporarily extended the maximum number of shift hours for drivers from nine to 10 last month, allowing them make longer journeys, however it was not enough.
James Bielby, head of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), called for military intervention back in June.
He said: ‘The situation has reached crisis point and it is likely to get worse as more hospitality venues open and demand increases.
‘The Government needs to act very quickly.
‘We are concerned enough to suggest that the Government considers having Army trucks on standby to ensure there are enough vehicles and drivers to distribute food.’
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