Supermarkets must take responsibility for the HGV and food industry labour shortages engulfing their supply chains, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday 27 August 2021).

The union called on the supermarkets and the employers in their supply chains not to seek quick fixes, such as ‘raiding other countries of their workers’.

Instead, they must work with Unite to properly address the longstanding issues of insecure work, low pay and unpleasant working conditions that are the root causes of the labour shortages. 

Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Bev Clarkson said: “Many parts of the UK food manufacturing sector, particularly poultry processing, are infamous for low wages, insecure contracts and exhausting work. 

“The supermarkets fostered and became ever more dependent on a supply chain based on a high turnover of cheap labour.

“But that model, which was exploitative, is broken, and the supermarkets must take responsibility for making it fit for purpose. 

“Industry has to work with Unite to provide a better deal for staff. Workers are the only ones who can fix the supply chain and at the moment they are not being incentivised to do so.”

Unite national officer for road transport, Adrian Jones, said: “Like sections of the food manufacturing industry, the haulage sector has been beset for years by low wages, job insecurity and stressful working conditions. 

“This race-to-the-bottom employment market, determined by the supermarkets’ supply chain demands, has put workers off. But the solution for industry is not to raid other countries of their workers, but to sit down with Unite and make HGV driving a more attractive proposition. 

“Road transport is crucial to the running of the country and the only way to resolve the long-standing issues in the industry is for genuine commitments to change. Unite is ready to sit down with employers to set good standards across the sector and we call on the government to establish an industry body to do just that.”


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.