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24th Oct 2021

Bin collections and bus services at risk this Christmas as workers quit to drive HGVs

Charlie Herbert

Bin collections and bus services at risk as workers leave to drive HGVs

Several councils have already some collections suspended or delayed due to staff shortages.

There are warnings of a ‘Christmas crisis’ in bin collections this year, as drivers quit their job to drive HGVs for supermarkets and food hauliers for much better pay.

According to reports, bin lorry drivers are being offered as much as $40,000 a year to switch to jobs in the food industry, with one council in Lancashire saying last week that it had lost almost half of its bin lorry drivers in the last three months.

There are also concerns that for bus services across the country as drivers also consider switching to the haulage industry for better pay.

According to Wales Online, industry insiders are saying 4,000 new recruits are needed to keep the country’s bus fleets moving, with some companies already having to reduce the frequency of services to try to avoid cancelling buses on school and commuting routes.

Bobby Morton, Unite’s national officer for passenger transport, told Sky News: “It all goes back to the lorry drivers, the shortage of lorry drivers in the haulage industry.

“And a number of the things that lorry drivers share with bus drivers is very long hours, massive fatigue levels, lack of basic facilities such as toilet facilities and washing facilities.

“And the mindset of the bus drivers at the moment is that, in the haulage industry, the employers threw money at the problem, at the shortage.

“So the mindset is now, if we’ve got to work in these Victorian conditions, then we might as well get £20 an hour driving the lorry, as opposed to £10 an hour driving a bus.

“So the bus drivers are leaving in droves to go to the other industry.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that councils in the UK are facing a shortage of local refuse collectors, as bin lorry drivers on around £25,000 a year can boost their salary by more than 60 percent by working for supermarkets, food hauliers or online retailers.

Councils in Devon, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Cambridgeshire have suspended garden waste services, whilst Haringey council said on Friday that some waste collections may be delayed by up to 72 hours “due to the effects national HGV shortages” are having on their operations.

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, said there was a vacancy rate for driving jobs of about 15% among waste contractors.

He said. “The UK is short more than 100,000 HGV drivers, resulting in disrupted collections that will only come under greater pressure as we near Christmas – when waste volumes typically rise by 30%.”

Two of the biggest council waste services, Amey an Veolia, are now offering sign-up bonuses of £1,500 to recruit drivers for council waste collection services.

The UK is facing a shortage of HGV drivers, which has already caused problem such as the petrol shortages last month, and is sparking fears of yet more shortages in the build-up to Christmas.

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