Unite, the UK’s leading union, which represents tens of thousands of lorry drivers, has warned that the government’s announcement that it intends to relax the cabotage rules will result in misery and exploitation.


Rule changes


Under the present rules foreign haulage companies from Europe can send lorry drivers to make just two deliveries before they have to leave the UK. The government intends to change this rule so that European haulage companies can require their drivers to make unlimited collections and deliveries during a two week period.


Terrible conditions


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Poor pay and terrible conditions have forced UK drivers to leave the haulage industry and helped create this crisis.  


"The government now proposes to allow overseas companies to force their drivers to stay in the UK making deliveries for two weeks without guaranteed safeguards like decent accommodation. This will do nothing to address the chronic problems we face. 


"Instead of tackling low pay and poor conditions the government is instead sponsoring the exploitation of drivers and the undercutting of terms and conditions on Britain's roads."


Live in cabs


Due to the way the driving regulations for lorry drivers are currently applied it will be entirely legal for the foreign drivers who are forced to operate in this way to spend the entire fortnight they are in the UK living in their lorry cab.


Unite believes that the decision to change the cabotage rules is a direct result of the government’s failure to attract foreign drivers to voluntarily come to work in the UK on a temporary visa scheme. By relaxing the cabotage rules it will be European employers who can force their drivers to operate in the UK.


Panic measures


Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “This is the latest in a long line of panic measures by the government to try to cope with the lorry driver shortage. Yet again they have ignored the long–term solutions of vastly improving pay and conditions needed to resolve the shortages.


“The bottom line is that unless European hauliers are prepared to invest in proper accommodation for their drivers they will be forced to live in their cabs for an entire fortnight. This will be a miserable, exhausting existence for them and once again raises safety issues for all UK road users.”




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


For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.


Email: [email protected]


Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion Web: unitetheunion.org


Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.