The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has expressed its extreme disappointment at the announcement that foreign haulage operators can now carry out unlimited work in the UK in 2-week blocks.
Cabotage allows non-UK haulage companies to work in the UK while being based outside the UK. Rather than bringing in drivers from outside the UK to work for UK companies – this outsources the whole haulage activity – tax, safety regulation, national insurance obligations are all controlled outside the UK, according to the RHA
Although it will help with the crisis in haulage availability, it will undermine the work being done to provide long-term solutions to deal with problems of lorry driver availability, pay and conditions and is in direct conflict with the Government’s aim in creating a high skilled, high wage economy post-Brexit, the RHA says.
Non-UK haulage companies will have major cost advantages to UK hauliers including fuel purchased at a lower cost in the EU, their drivers paid far less than UK drivers with many paid below the UK minimum wage and no contribution towards the cost of enforcement in the UK, an obligation all UK operators have.
Commenting, RHA Managing Director for Policy and Public Affairs, Rod McKenzie said: “This announcement directly contradicts the Government’s stated aim of creating a high-wage economy. Foreign hauliers will flood the UK, running on cheaper fuel and low paid drivers, undercutting the work UK hauliers are doing. This greatly undermines the improved pay and conditions we have started to see for UK drivers.”
“It is shameful that the Government are offshoring UK haulage work to operators from outside the UK who will pay no income tax or national insurance and are unaccountable for safety standards and compliance”.
When a driver works for a UK company, they will be continuously assessed, often via telematics. The operators are accountable to the traffic commissioners in the UK for the compliance with safety standards. Under cabotage you have no effective control over compliance with safety standards.
The RHA is continuing to urge the Government to add HGV drivers to the Shortage Occupation List which would enable them to be employed by UK hauliers whilst we focus on training a domestic workforce. We continue to ask for changes to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence that would help retain UK drivers in work and allow retired or lapsed UK drivers to come back to driving more easily.