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BBC’s Panorama exposes poor working conditions of UK lorry drivers



UK HGV drivers face unfair working conditions according to BBC Panorama report

A BBC Panorama programme has highlighted the poor working conditions experienced by HGV drivers and the knock-on effect that this is having on the wider economy.


The programme, Delivering Christmas: What’s in Store?, examined the challenges facing the supply chain in the run-up to Christmas. Both an English and Romanian HGV driver were interviewed to get their contrasting perspectives of conditions in the UK.



BBC Panorama investigates HGV driver inequality

A first-hand account of these conditions


Mick Ward, a lorry driver with 30 years experience, said: “The conditions are as bad today as 20 years ago.” He blamed this partly on the state of the lorry parks, the 60-70 hour working weeks and also on wages which have been suppressed due to years of relatively cheap labour from the European Union.


The industry is facing a shortage of drivers, both due to the working conditions and Brexit, as 15,000 European drivers left the country after the UK exited from the European Union.

The industry is facing a shortage of drivers, both due to the working conditions and Brexit, as 15,000 European drivers left the country after the UK exited from the European Union.

The Government has recently committed £32.5m to enhance lorry parking facilities.


Why European drivers refuse to return to the UK


Cosmin Vincentiu, a Romanian HGV driver told the programme that he had received five or six offers to return to the UK where he had been previously working but had declined, adding that he did not know of any other drivers based in Continental Europe who were considering returning. “Nobody wants to go back to England,” he said, adding that conditions are “the worst in Europe.”


Mr Vincentiu explained that in Italy, drivers aren’t charged for showers or for overnight parking, and that good food is available for 15 euros per night.


In the UK, by contrast, Mr Ward said that service stations can charge £30 per night for parking and facilities are poor. Security is lax and lorry drivers leave their back doors open to let burglars know that they are not carrying any valuable goods, he said.


Showing the presenter around a shower block in one of the service stations, he explained that two of the three showers were out of order and that the other one had been used by 48 people. “There needs to be a major investment in the haulage industry, starting with the drivers,” he said.


How conducting research has changed with new technologies


Understanding the current movements of HGVs is critical in being able to take an evidence-based approach to building new capacity. The most recent Government study in 2017 counted just over 15,000 suitable lorry parking spaces, leaving around 3,600 vehicles forced to park up elsewhere. This has resulted in lorries parking in laybys and even on the verges of roads and bridges where there are no facilities at all.

The most recent Government study in 2017 counted just over 15,000 suitable lorry parking spaces, leaving around 3,600 vehicles forced to park up elsewhere.

Up until recently, manual surveys of lorry parks were conducted using pens and clipboards. This did not give a comprehensive overview of what was happening at a lorry park, it reflected only what was happening at a particular moment in time.

Because of advancements in technology, recording lorry park activity has become more accurate and can be conducted more frequently with Citi Logik's mobile network data. The process is also cost-effective compared to the days when such surveys were conducted manually.

Chris Bax, Chief Executive of Citi Logik, said: “By using mobile network data to identify current vehicle movements, including their origins and destinations, we can help ensure that the new lorry parks are built in the right places. This brings a host of benefits including attracting and retaining HGV drivers, lowering carbon emissions and making the best use of vehicle fleets and the UK’s road network.”


"By using mobile network data to identify current vehicle movements, including their origins and destinations, we can help ensure that the new lorry parks are built in the right places."

Citi Logik’s experience of analysing HGV routes includes a project in 2020 for the Northern Ireland Department for Economy (DfE). Citi Logik analysed HGV movements between NI and GB using mobile network data to help the department prepare for Brexit.


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