Safety must be paramount on lorry driver hours

Transport union Unite has said lorry drivers are willing to be flexible to meet increased demands in the retail sector as a result of the coronavirus, but has said safety must not be compromised. The government announced this week it is relaxing restrictions on delivery hours for shops to make sure they remain stocked with basic items. Shelves have been emptied of certain commodities, as nervous shoppers stockpiled ‘essentials’. The environment department Defra said it would work with local councils to increase the frequency of deliveries. Environment secretary George Eustice said by allowing night-time deliveries, stock would be able to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves. Unite national officer Adrian Jones commented: “In order to meet the increased demand as a result of the coronavirus, many lorry drivers are being asked to work long hours. While Unite recognises that increased flexibility is required to cope with this increased demand, it must not be allowed to compromise drivers’ safety.” He added: “If changes in normal working practices are required then Unite believes that employers should enter into negotiations with Unite, to reassure drivers their safety is not being compromised.” The Unite officer, whose union represents over 50,000 lorry drivers, warned: “Drivers already report high levels of fatigue and exhaustion during their normal working time, which affects their physical and mental health as well as their family life and relationships. Lifting the regulations, without proper safeguards, will put more strain on them which could result in them being a danger to other road users and themselves.”
Unite news releaseDefra news releaseBBC News Online.

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