Truck driver

‘Lack of drivers’ cause of empty shelves, says Derry truck driver

“We need action, not just words” if we are to avoid empty shelves in our stores, said a Derry truck driver.

Philip McKinney, Alliance adviser in Derry City and Strabane District Council, said government intervention was needed “quickly” if we are not to have permanent empty shelves.

He said: “We need action, not just words. I am an advisor to the Alliance, but I say this as a truck driver with 40 years of experience.

“I don’t have all the answers. We need government intervention – and fast – if we don’t want to have empty shelves all the time. “

He said there were four main reasons for a driver shortage.

“Brexit: many of our drivers from countries like Romania have returned to the EU.

“Training – If you are 18 years old, you can apply for a provisional LGV + C permit. But to get a full LGV C + E license, it can cost anywhere from £ 1,600 to £ 2,000. What young person has that kind of money available? But many training companies try to help with payment plans.
“There are very few government incentives for young people. But there are ways to get people into the industry at no cost.

Truck driver, Alliance advisor Philip McKinney.

“In the English depot of a carrier in Northern Ireland, an apprenticeship program was set up – run in conjunction with a training company with government grants. And successful apprentices went straight into full-time jobs.

“In addition to being responsible for a £ 50,000 truck and high-value cargo, a driver needs to know the traffic laws of the country they are driving in, EU regulations on driving hours. driving, road transport regulations, dangerous goods legislation and licenses, working time. directive; health and safety regulations; and the driver’s professional aptitude certificate.

Cllr McKinney said wages were “obviously important”.

He added: ‘The average is around £ 10 per hour, unless you have specialist freight.

“The carriers are not totally responsible for this, because in the past the customer dictated the rate of transport and with a small carrier every penny counted. It was ‘wash or swim’. If we want goods to keep moving, transport and driver prices will go up – unfortunately for the consumer. “

Describing the infrastructure in this part of the world as’ catastrophic ‘, Councilor McKinney added:’ It’s a shame that we still don’t have a motorway / expressway between Belfast and the North West.

“For example, if I have to take a load from Birmingham to Gweedore Industrial Estate in Donegal, I join the M6 ​​motorway to Scotland. I take my breaks in the motorway services with suitable equipment. I take the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast and continue to Gweedore.

“I need to have a full daily rest of at least nine hours. So where are the facilities between Belfast and Gweedore? It is outrageous that drivers have to put up with the lack of facilities in Northern Ireland.

“Where are the appropriate facilities where a driver can sit, have a meal in comfort, with an appropriate shower and toilet, and park my truck in a secure area? “

“And the facilities are even worse for female drivers. ”

In conclusion, Councilor McKinney said: “Actions, please – not just words.”

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