Impact of the working time directive on collective bargaining in the road transport sector— UK

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 19 December 2007



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This report analyses the impact of the working time directive on the road transport sector in the UK. Overall, it would appear that the directive has had limited impact, other than obliging employers to reduce working hours for their drivers, usually at no loss of pay. The sector is generally male-dominated and has recruitment difficulties due to a perceived long hours culture and a high incidence of working away from home. Further, it is expected that the skills and labour shortages this sector is experiencing will be exacerbated by the directive, as employers seek to recruit extra drivers.

1. Details of the road transport sector in your country

Please provide some basic details about the road transport sector in your country. Information should include:

  • the structure of the mobile workforce in the sector, including size, type of employee, proportion of self-employed workers (see also below)
  • the types of employers operating in the sector

Much of the following data is taken from a report by Incomes Data Services (IDS) in conjunction with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) based on a survey carried out among road haulage employers1.

In terms of the composition of the sector, IDS quotes figures from the Sector Skills Council for the freight logistics industry (Skills for Logistics, http://www.skillsforlogistics.org/), which states that the total number of logistics sector workplaces in the UK is 65,280, accounting for 3% of all workplaces in the UK. According to UK government figures, quoted by the RHA, there are 103,000 registered goods vehicle operators in the UK, carrying over 80% of all domestic freight movements within the UK. It is thought that these companies use 394,600 licensed heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and 265,000 semi-trailers. A total of 1,643 million tonnes of freight were carried by the UK road fleet in 2004. Skills for Logistics reports that the sector is worth GBP55bn to the UK economy and employs around 1.7 million people, in some 65,000 companies. Most specifically, according to the Labour Force Survey (spring 2005), 309,000 people work as LGV drivers and 212,000 work as van drivers.

Freight logistics companies fall into two groups: those that manage their own distribution system (including some large manufacturers); and dedicated companies that provide and manage it on behalf of others (such as Exel or Eddie Stobart Ltd.). These latter organisations are referred to as Third Party Logistics. The majority of companies operating in the sector are small and medium-sized – according to the IDS survey, 83% of the workplaces in the sector employ between one and 10 people and around 5% of the workforce is employed in workplaces with 50 or more people. According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), three-quarters of operators in the road freight sector have a fleet of two vehicles or less and the largest 10% of fleets operate half of the LGV fleet.

The South-East of the country employs around 25% of the total UK workforce in this sector. The North-West is the second-largest region in terms of employment, with over 200,000 people in the logistics sector. Scotland accounts for 7% of the sector’s workforce, Wales 4% and Northern Ireland 1%.

Overall, the road haulage sector is traditionally male-dominated – according to Skills for Logistics, only 22% of the workforce is female. According to the IDS survey, around one in eight companies in the sector employ female drivers, just over one in 10 employ drivers from ethnic minorities and less than 6% have employees who are registered as disabled. Further, the workforce is ageing and Skills for Logistics therefore believes that by 2014, 259,000 new workers will be needed to replace retiring workers. It states that the historical image of the sector as being dominated by men needs to be addressed if women are to be encouraged to work in the industry.

Just under half of the 101 respondents to the IDS survey said that they never employed agency drivers, although the vast majority of these were small companies of less than 50 employees. Around a quarter said that they occasionally used agency drivers and only one in ten said that they used agency drivers every week. One disincentive to hiring agency workers is cited be to the relative high cost of these workers.

Other sources of information on the industry include a research paper submitted to the UK parliament in 1999, which emphasises its diversity: “The road haulage industry as a whole is both diverse and fragmented. It ranges from the owner drivers with a single lorry operating on the “tramp” principle, to specialist hauliers of, for example, bulk liquids, to large fleets.” (http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-042.pdf)

Taxi drivers operate around the UK, either in black cabs or as minicab drivers. While the driving skills are the same, there are some differences between black cab drivers and minicab drivers. For example, minicab drivers are linked by radio to an operating centre that relays details of where to pick up the next customer. They can only collect pre-booked passengers and cannot be flagged down on the street. Black cab drivers can be booked in advance but can also wait at official taxi ranks or pick up passengers while on the move, especially around busy areas, such as railway stations, airports, shopping centres, hotels and pubs.

Black cab drivers are self-employed, whereas minicab drivers can either work for an operating company and rent a car from them, or use their own car and work on a self-employed basis. Taxi drivers work between 40 and 60 hours a week. They are represented by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.

The bus sector is deregulated in the UK, with the result that a large nujmber of local bus and longer-distance coach companies operate around the country. Bus and coach drivers are covered by the UK working time Regulations, which limit maximum working time and regulate rest breaks. However, shift working and night, weekend and public holiday working are common.

There are over 130,000 drivers working in over 6,000 bus and coach companies in the UK. According to learndirect, trainee and new drivers usually earn between £10,000 and £14,000 a year, xperienced bus and coach drivers earn £15,000 to £18,000 a year and some specialist tour coach drivers earn up to £22,000 a year.

2. Collective bargaining in the road transport sector

Please provide information on collective bargaining in your sector, including:

  • details of the social partners in this sector – trade unions and employer bodies, name, field of intervention (all the sector/specific part of the sector// all the workers in the sector/ part of them…)

The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU, http://www.tgwu.org.uk/) is the largest union in the sector and has a dedicated section for commercial road transport, covering 80,000 lorry and van drivers. The TGWU estimates that it has around 140,000 members in the transportation sector, including warehouse and support staff. The TWGU organises in all aspects of road transport and logistics, including the milk industry, parcels, general haulage, chemical and oil haulage, petrol distribution, car collection and heavy haulage. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw, http://www.usdaw.org.uk/) represents around 20,000 workers in the road transport sector, in companies such as ACC Transport, which is part of the Cooperative Group of retailers and wholesalers, and the distribution company AF Blakemore & Son Ltd. Also present is the United Road Transport Union (URTU, http://www.urtu.com/), which is a small, specialised road haulage union. URTU is affilated to the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) and has a membership of almost 18,000; and the general trade union GMB (http://www.gmb.org.uk/). The GMB’s 9,000 members in the logistics and distribution sector are organised within the union’s food and leisure sub-section, in turn part of its commercial services section. The Communication Workers Union (CWU, http://www.cwu.org) organises drivers who work for Parcelforce (part of the Royal Mail Group) and Logistics, which handles the distribution of parcels and letters for Royal Mail.

The RHA is involved in bargaining regional pay agreements through Joint Industrial Councils (JICs), but these only recommend rates and the majority of collective bargaining takes place at company level (see below). In addition to the RHA there are some trade associations that campaign and lobby on behalf of road transport companies, such as the FTA and the Road Transport Association (RTA). These two organisations together represent the interests of more than 20,000 businesses, whose members are estimated to operate over 250,000 vehicles, nearly two-thirds of the total number of heavy goods vehicles registered in the UK. However they do not engage in collective bargaining.

  • whether there are collective agreements.

If so, could you specify whether it is a sectoral one or whether there are agreements that are signed in significant companies. what proportion of the sector do they cover?

If there are agreements, how often are they renewed. What are the subjects covered : definition of working time

  • working hours
  • breaks
  • rest periods
  • controls and checks on drivers

As mentioned above, there is no sector-wide collective agreement in the road transport sector in the UK. Some bargaining of minimum rates of pay and working hours, between representatives of trade unions and the RHA takes place in Regional JICs covering Scotland, South Yorkshire, East Midlands and West Midlands. For example, the Road Haulage JIC for Scotland, which covers 10,000 drivers and mates, increased basic hourly rates by 3.5% from 1 April 20062. However, these regional agreements set recommended pay rates only – the IDS survey found that in some regions such as the West Midlands, the average basic pay rate was below the recommended rate set out in that region’s JIC, whereas in others, such as South Yorkshire, average basic rates in some areas were above the recommended rate for the region. Overall, the number of regions setting recommended rates has declined – Devon and Cornwall and the London and the South East region JICs have recently not set rates. Collective agreements are more commonly negotiated at the level of individual companies. There are a wide range of such agreements; an extensive round-up of the latest settlements is given by the IDS report (see table 1 below).

The IDS study found that only 8% of its 101 company respondents negotiated with a trade union over pay and conditions, and that the majority of these (over three-quarters) were larger companies employing 80 or more staff. It examined 57 pay and conditions documents in the road transport and distribution sector, covering an estimated 22,000 employees. It found that the median pay increase in 2006 was 3.2%, a decrease of 0.6 of a percentage point on the findings of the previous year’s study. It notes that this may be due to the fact that in 2005 relatively high increases were applied to basic rates as a consequence of the implementation of EU Directive 2002/15/EC in the UK on 4 April 2005. Nevertheless, IDS notes that the median for this sector was still above the median for the whole UK economy, which was 3%. Indeed, pay for drivers increased significantly over the 12 months to September and October 2006. It found that the average basic pay rate for a driver of an articulated large goods vehicle (LGV, category C&E) is GBP8.23 an hour, which is 9.4% higher than the average recorded in the previous year’s IDS study. The average basic pay rate for an LGV driver (category C&E)) in the removals sector is GBP8.66 an hour, which IDS states is 5.2% higher than the average for the road transport sector, noting that this may be due to the additional physical demands of the job, including loading and unloading. The average basic pay rate for a van driver was GBP7.04 an hour, 7.2% higher than the previous year. IDS attributes these higher pay increases to the implementation of EU Directive 2002/15/EC in the UK on 4 April 2005, obliging many firms to increase their hourly pay rates in order to maintain salaries within the context of reducing working time. The IDS findings on settlements and pay are backed up by Industrial Relations Services (IRS), which in November 2006 published an overview of settlements in the 12 months to 31 August 2006 in the transport and communications sector3. IRS also stated that the median pay award in this sector was 3%, which was 0.75 of a percentage point below the median for the previous year.

Table 1: hours and annual holiday entitlement for LGV drivers, 2006. Selected organisations.
 
Organisation Working week (hours) Annual holiday entitlement (days)
Cadogan Tate 45 20
CVL Distribution 45 20
Drysdale Freight 40 17
Eaton Transport 40 20
E Pawson & Son 48 20
Fedex Express Europe 40 24
GB Liners 45 20
Gees Haulage 45 15
H&R Gray Haulage 40 20
Joseph Rice & Sons 40 20
Morton Gibson Transport 40 15–20
N Emerson Group 40 20
Owen Pugh & Co. 39 20
Oxford Logistics (Milton) 45 15
Rase Distribution 40 21
Rendrive Haulage 45 15
Sam Ostle and Sons 48 20
TNT Express 39 n/a
WT Allen Garages 48 20
Source: “Pay in road transport and distribution 2006/07. A report by Incomes Data Services Ltd in conjunction with the Road Haulage Association”. Incomes Data Services. Author’s own selection of organisations.

In terms of working time, the median basic working week for the drivers in the IDS study is 40 hours, unchanged from the previous year. The average actual working week is 43 hours. However, one in eight companies has a basic working week of 45 hours and one in 10 has a 48-hour week. Some 15% of the sample guaranteed a certain number of overtime hours each week, of which over two-thirds had a basic working week of 40 hours. The average holiday entitlement among IDS survey respondents was 20 days a year, excluding public holidays. Collective bargaining is also relevant to working time. For example, the South Yorkshire Road Haulage JIC recommends weekly working time at 40 hours and 20 days of annual leave, inclusive of public holidays, rising to 4 weeks’ paid holiday and eight paid contractual days off after one year’s service. It awards two additional contractual days after two years’ service.

3. Implementation of the Directive 2002/15/EC in your country

Has your country implemented this Directive?

a) If so, please give details of the implementing legislation or collective agreement, and when it came into force.

If not, please give details of any debate about implementation, plus any likely implementation date.

The Directive was implemented in the UK by the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20050639.htm], which came into force on 4 April 2005. These Regulations affect mobile workers (mainly drivers, crew and other travelling staff) who are travelling in vehicles subject to the Community Drivers’ Hours regulation (3820/85/EEC). The Regulations set limits on weekly working time (excluding breaks and periods of availability) and night work. They also specify how much continuous work can be done before taking a break and introduce daily and weekly rest limits for the crew and travelling staff. Under the new regulations, working time for mobile workers must not exceed: an average 48-hour week; 60 hours in any single week; and 10 hours in any 24-hour period, if working at night. The reference period for the average 48-hour week may be extended from 4 to 6 months and the amount of night work can exceed 10 hours if a collective or workforce agreement is in place. However, mobile workers are not allowed to opt out of the weekly working time limits, even if they want to work longer.

Working time is defined in the Regulations as follows:

a) the time devoted to all road transport activities, including driving; loading/ unloading; training that is part of normal work and is part of the commercial operation; assisting passengers boarding/ disembarking from vehicle; cleaning, maintenance of vehicle; work intended to ensure safety of vehicle and its cargo and passengers (e.g. monitoring loading and unloading / including daily defect check and report); administrative formalities or work linked to legal or regulatory obligations directly linked to the specific transport operations under way.

b) time devoted to other activities: time during which the mobile worker cannot freely dispose of his/her time and is required to be at the workstation, ready to take up normal work, with certain tasks associated with being on duty (e.g. working in the warehouse, or in an office or doing other activities for the employer); waiting periods where the foreseeable duration is not known in advance, by the mobile worker, either before departure or just before the start of the period in question.

Working Time does not include: routine travel between home and their normal place of work; rest and breaks when no work is done; periods of availability; evening classes or day-release courses; voluntary work or time spent as a Retained Fire Fighter, a Special Constable, or member of the Reserve Forces).

The Regulations oblige employers to monitor working time and to do what they can to ensure that the limits are not breached. Records must to be kept for two years.

Self-employed drivers (as defined under the Regulations) are excluded from the Regulations, but will be covered from March 2009. However, the definition of self-employed driver has been tightly drawn, meaning that only a limited number of drivers are likely to be classified as self-employed. Under the Regulations, a “self-employed driver” means anyone whose main occupation is to transport passengers or goods by road for hire or reward within the meaning of Community legislation under cover of a Community licence or any other professional authorisation to carry out such transport, who is entitled to work for himself and who is not tied to an employer by an employment contract or by any other type of working hierarchical relationship, who is free to organise the relevant working activities, whose income depends directly on the profits made and who has the freedom, individually or through a co-operation between self-employed drivers, to have commercial relations with several customers.

A review of the 2005 Regulations and their accompanying formal guidance has been promised by the UK government, which has set up a Data Validation Working Group for this purpose. This group, made up of government, social partner and industry representatives, has been set up for meeting once a month from January until June 2007. The evidence the group has collected will then be analysed and the government will then consider its options for improving the Regulations and formal guidance. If the government issues any proposals for change, they will be subject to public consultation.

It should be noted that the UK implemented the EU’s new social package for road transport by 11 April 2007. This package consists of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, which replaces Regulation (EC) No 3820/85, plus amendments to Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98. Regulation 561/2006 tightens existing working time regulation for drivers. The main changes are: maximum weekly driving time of 56 hours, instead of the former60 hours; accumulated driving time during any two consecutive weeks must not exceed 90 hours; the regulation of breaks will be tightened. Up until now, it has been possible to take breaks in three periods of 15 minutes before accumulating 4.5 hours’ driving time. In practice, this has meant that it has been possible to drive for almost nine hours with only 15 minutes’ break. A 15-minute break is still permitted, but this must be followed by a break of at least 30 minutes before the next 4.5 hours has elapsed; daily rest can currently be split into three period, the smallest of which must be no less than one hour and the largest no less than eight hours. Minimum daily rest is nine hours and regular daily rest is 11 hours. Under the new EC Regulation, minimum and regular daily rest remains the same, but split rest can only be taken in two periods of three and nine hours, respectively; and weekly rest rules will change, with the removal of the option to reduce weekly rest to 36 hours. In any two consecutive weeks, a driver is able to take either two regular rests of 45 hours or one regular rest and one reduced rest of no less than 24 hours.

b) If your country has implemented the Directive, has implementation been effected by means of specific terms in collective agreements or brought new topics onto the collective bargaining agenda in areas such as health and safety, the organisation of working time, working hours and working conditions or onto these areas in general?

The main effect of the extension of the working time Directive to mobile workers in the road transport sector has been to oblige employers to reduce average working time for their mobile workers. This has been achieved largely through agreements at company level between company representatives and trade union representatives. These agreements have shortened average weekly working time, often with no loss of pay, effected by means of increasing holiday entitlement and/or increasing hourly rates of pay. As mentioned above, the IDS survey of the road transport and distribution sector in 2006/07 found that basic pay rates had increased significantly over the past year as a result of the new UK Working Time Regulations. Further, the survey found that around one-third of its respondents (34 companies) said that they had made changes to pay and conditions (including an increase in basic pay), either to overcome recruitment and retention problems or to accommodate the 2005 Working Time Regulations. During the previous year, 54% of the sample said that they had made changes to pay and conditions, although IDS notes that this was to be expected as 2005 was the year that the Regulations came into force.

Examples of specific companies negotiating changes to accommodate the 2005 Working Time Regulations include: (a) an agreement negotiated in November 2003 between Usdaw and the company ACC Transport, which is part of the Cooperative Group of retailers and wholesalers. Under this agreement, 1,200 drivers received a pay increase of 18.5% over two-and-a-half years and a reduction in average weekly working time from 60 to 48 hours a week (source: Usdaw); (b) an agreement, also negotiated by Usdaw, in January 2004, which reduced the working week for drivers at the company A F Blakemore & Son Ltd from 57 to 48, with no loss of pay. To achieve this, hourly pay rose by 27% from 1 February 2004. Further, drivers’ holiday entitlement was increased from 25 to 30 days a year. This company distributes to over 750 Spar retail outlets around the UK (source: Usdaw).

c) The Directive allows for derogations to be made from the provisions on maximum working time and night work, for objective or technical reasons or reasons concerning the organisation of work, through “collective agreements, agreements between the social partners, or by laws, regulations or administrative provisions, provided there is consultation of the representatives of the employers and workers concerned and efforts are made to encourage all relevant forms of social dialogue”.

Maximum working time

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working week of 48 hours, extendable to 60 hours if the average of 48 hours a week is not exceeded over four months? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 provide for an exemption to the maximum 60-hour week for coach drivers on an international (non-regular) unscheduled journey. Coach drivers on such journeys will be allowed to drive their vehicle for over 60 hours in a single week, although they will still be bound by the average 48-hour working week, along with the daily and weekly rest requirements. Further, by means of a workplace or collective agreement, employers and workers can agree to extend the reference period for the average 48-hour working time limit up to 26 weeks and agree whether this will be monitored using a fixed or rolling method. Agreements can also be used to exceed the 10 hour limit for night work (see below under “night work”). A collective agreement is defined by the Regulations as an agreement between the employer and an independent trade union. A workforce agreement is defined as an agreement with elected representatives of the workforce in most cases. A workforce agreement can apply to the whole workforce or to a group of workers.

It does not appear that many companies have derogated from the Regulations in the area of working time, or calculate working time over a larger reference period. Only one respondent to the IDS survey operated an annual hours system - One Stop Stores, a convenience retailer, has an annual hours system of 2,496 hours for drivers and does not guarantee an overtime hours.

Night work

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working day of 10 hours in a 24-hour period if night work is performed? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 state that more than 10 hours’ work at night can be performed if there is a relevant agreement in place. According to the IDS study, 12% of respondents said that the new Regulations in the area of nightwork had made no difference, while 4% said that the level of customer service had suffered as a result. Around 2% said that administration costs had increased. 3% said that they believed that drivers “felt less tired, less stressed and generally happier” as a result. Less than a quarter of respondents to the IDS survey said that they employed drivers who work at night. Of these, one-fifth have extended the night work limit and three-fifths of these have extended the limit by two hours, to 12 hours. Two companies (Allen Morris Transport and Gee’s Haulage), have extended to limit by one hour, to 11 hours.

4. Specific issues

a) What are the main problems in this sector in your country?

Are there requests from interested parties (employees, trade unions, employer bodies, the government) about regulation on any of the following:

  • health and safety
  • working conditions
  • long working hours
  • controls and checks on drivers

One of the main problems in the UK road haulage sector appears to be recruitment and retention, linked to a perceived “long hours culture” and a high incidence of working away from home. The trade union URTU has stated that there is a shortfall of 46,000 drivers in the UK and is calling for working time to be reduced further in the sector. The IDS study reports that: “recruitment and retention problems in the sector still persist, especially among LGV drivers (C&E). A lack of qualified drivers remains a key problem in the sector, as are long working hours, despite the implementation of the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations.” However, the study goes on to say that there are signs that recruitment and retention difficulties are easing, due to the fact that companies are trying to make their pay and conditions more attractive and due to the increase in the labour supply through the use of migrant workers. The FTA estimates that migrant workers now make up 20% of newly-recruited drivers in this sector. In the IDS survey, 14 out of its 101 respondent companies said that they employed drivers from EU accession countries, particularly Poland.

Some trade unions are unhappy about the UK implementing legislation. URTU takes issue in particular with the definition of working time under the new legislation, arguing that certain times where workers are available for work (periods of availability, PoAs) should be calculated as working time – at present, they are not. Under the Regulations, PoAs are defined as waiting time, the duration of which is known about in advance by the mobile worker. The Regulations state that these periods have to meet the following criteria: a mobile worker should not be required to remain at their workstation (but) they must be available to answer calls to start work or resume driving on request; and the period and the foreseeable duration should be known in advance, by the mobile worker, either before departure or just before the start of the period in question.

Examples of PoAs include the time when accompanying a vehicle being transported by boat or train; or time spent waiting at frontiers; or delays due to traffic prohibitions. Unless the driver is taking a break or performing other work (such as navigation), periods of availability also includes time spent sitting next to the driver while the vehicle is in motion (when driving in a team). In addition to drivers, other travelling staff may count travelling time as PoA, providing they are not performing any other work. According to URTU, “ What this means, in effect, is that a driver can sit in their cab in a long line of wagons at an RDC, unable to freely dispose of their time, ie at work, and this will not count towards working time.” [http://www.urtu.com/n040405.htm]

  • TGWU campaigns include a minimum hourly pay rate for drivers; abuse of PoA provisions; and a review of health and safety in the sector, together with employer bodies.

b) Self-employed drivers

Please give details of the kind of debate that is being held in your country on this issue. For example, what are the views of the government and the social partners on whether or not self-employed drivers should be covered by national implementing legislation.

Self-employed drivers are currently not covered by the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005, but will be covered from March 2009. According to the IDS study, the most common comment about working time in general was the desire for a “level playing field” - ie that the Regulations should include self-employed drivers. Nine respondents in the IDS survey wanted immediate coverage of self-employed drivers in the UK.

c) Trans-border drivers

Are trans-border drivers concerned by your country regulation in the road transport sector? If so, please specify how. For example, which jurisdiction covers drivers who cross your country on their way to other countries? Is this an issue for debate in your country?

Once the UK implements the EU’s new social package for road transport (see above) – implementation is due on 11 April 2007 – where a driver spends a part of their week driving in the UK and another part driving in another EU country, they will be covered by these EU rules. Where a part of a journey passes through non-EU countries subject to an international agreement on drivers’ hours (the AETR agreement), all of the journey will be subject to the AETR agreement.

d) Other issues

Are there any other issues of importance in your country that have not been covered above?

No

5. Views of the national centre

It is particularly important that each NC gives its own comments on the issues covered by this study. Please provide any additional information that you consider important to better understand the current situation and recent developments in the area of working time in your country’s road transport sector.

The road transport sector in the UK has undergone a wide range of changes over the past few years. Much of this is due to the introduction of the new working time Regulations for this sector, which came into force in April 2005 and constitute the UK’s transposition of Directive 2002/15/EC. The introduction of this legislation has obliged individual companies to reduce their average working hours and, in many cases, to raise hourly rates to compensate workers for the decrease in hours. While this has had a tangible effect on the sector, in terms of agreed hours and basic pay rates, trade unions are keen for the UK government to regulate working time more tightly in the sector and are hoping that this will be effected through the government’s promised review of the Regulations.

However, according to the IDS study, the overwhelming majority of employer respondents (96%) said that there have been “no demonstrable benefits” following the introduction of the working time Regulations. A total of 39% of respondents said that the 48-hour average working week had had a detrimental impact upon their business, due mainly to increases in administration costs and drivers not being able to work overtime. Smaller firms may be hit hardest. However, 32% said that the working time limit had had little or no impact, while 13% said that it had had a beneficial impact on their business. In terms of the controversial periods of availability (PoAs – see above), these averaged nine and a quarter hours a week in the IDS survey, which is a quarter of an hour longer than in the previous year’s survey. The majority of employers (69%) said that restricting the use of PoAs (as trade unions are advocating) would have a “major detrimental impact upon their business, resulting in additional costs and some companies even indicated that they would cease trading”. However, 15% of respondents said that this would have no impact on their operations.

Finally, one of the main problems currently faced by the sector would appear to be an ongoing recruitment and retention shortage, partly due to the sector being perceived as an unattractive one in which to work. This has eased slightly over the past few months, partly due to improved terms and conditions in many companies and partly due to the recruitment of workers from EU accession countries. However, many interested parties estimate that a wide-ranging recruitment drive, which also needs to attract more women into the sector, needs to be instigated to avoid severe skills shortages in this sector.

Footnotes

1 Pay in road transport and distribution 2006/07. A report by Incomes Data Services Ltd in conjunction with the Road Haulage Association. ISBN 1-905642-16-4.

2 IRS Employment Review 859, November 2006.

3 IRS Employment Review 859, November 2006.

4 Quarterly Transport Activity Survey, October 2006. Freight Transport Association, http://www.fta.co.uk/information/otherissues/trends/qtas/qtas0610.pdf).

Further reading:

P Smith, 1999, 'Exclusion and Disarticulation: The Transport and General Workers Union in the Road Haulage Industry, 1979-1998', Volume 37, Issue 4, pp. 615-636, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Blackwell, Oxford.

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