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24 May 2012
Labour's shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has pledged to raise the serious concerns of lorry drivers with government ministers and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, after meeting a delegation from Unite, the largest union in the country.
Maria Eagle was told by the delegation of a small number of independent Suffolk haulage operators who have been accused of “systematic abuses” of their drivers. The alleged abuses of the Working Time Directive described by the delegation related to a small number of independent hauliers based in the Felixstowe docks area.
Maria Eagle said: “The serious concerns about working conditions and safety for all road users raised with me by heavy goods vehicle drivers must be taken seriously by both the haulage industry and ministers.
“I will be raising these concerns with the department for transport and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). They must take swift action to investigate any practices that put the safety of both HGV drivers and other road users at risk.”
Unite regional officer Mark Plumb said: “We had a very positive meeting with Maria Eagle and are pleased that she is taking our concerns forward. We hope that this action will stamp out the abuses that Unite has highlighted.
“We have collated a number of flagrant abuses of the Working Time Directive, including working up to 80 hours per week, every week over the regulatory period. Also, there have been infringements into night time working (starting work before 4.00am) without health checks, and then followed by 15-hour days, up to three times per week.
“Members have also been encouraged to take their rest periods, while their lorries are being loaded or unloaded, and, in some cases, have been given loads which exceed the maximum weight limit for such vehicles.”