Lorry drivers suffering at hands of long-hours culture

Excessive
hours are having a damaging effect on the family and social lives of most UK
lorry drivers, with one in four currently working more than 60 hours a week.

Research
by one of the UK’s largest road transport trade unions, Usdaw, shows that of
the nearly 750 road transport members surveyed:

·
72 per cent said working long hours had damaged their family and social lives

·
Almost six in 10 said long hours had damaged their health

·
Almost half work 55 or more hours a week

·
One in four work 60 or more hours a week.

Usdaw
is urging transport company bosses to start negotiating with unions and workers
now, ahead of the introduction of an EU directive in March 2005, which will
limit the working week of drivers to a maximum of 48 hours.

Usdaw
general secretary Sir Bill Connor said: "The Road Transport Working Time Directive
will revolutionise a sector plagued by problems associated with a
deeply-embedded culture of working long hours.

"Our
survey clearly shows that this culture is damaging the family and social lives
of drivers. Usdaw welcomes the directive, as it will bring huge benefits to our
20,000 road transport members. Change will be tough for some transport
companies, but it needn’t cause complete chaos. The proactive companies are
already working with unions and workers to phase-in new working practices and
allay the fears of many drivers, who expect to lose out financially as a result
of the reduced hours. The industry already has a shortage of skilled drivers –
unless companies sharpen up, they stand to lose a lot more."

Two
separate major agreements negotiated by Usdaw in recent months – with ACC
Transport (part of The Co-operative Group) and A F Blakemore & Son Ltd
(which distributes to 750 Spar stores) – have resulted in reduced working hours
at no financial loss to a total of around 1,300 drivers. Both deals were
specifically linked to the requirements of the Road Transport Working Time
Directive.

By Quentin Reade

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