Felixstowe: Union furious over truckers’ working hours

UNION officials claimed today that a handful of haulage companies in Felixstowe are abusing their lorry drivers’ working conditions.

Representatives from Unite have organised a meeting with the shadow secretary of state for transport, Maria Eagle, to discuss the issue after claims were made to the union that drivers are working up to 80 hours a week – nearly double the working time directive.

A delegation of drivers from Felixstowe have also been invited to attend the meeting and explain the situation.

The union is claiming that three or four companies which operate out of Felixstowe are “intimidating” their drivers into breaching the directive and it amounts to “systematic abuse” of their employees.

They are hoping the issue will be raised in Parliament.

Mark Plumb, regional officer for Unite, said: “All the current issues we will be raising will be around the systematic abuse of the working time directive.

“There are those in the Port of Felixstowe who have effectively been intimidated and bullied into trying to breach the working time directive.”

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Other concerns which are set to be raised at the meeting in Westminster include that of night time working.

It is claimed that truckers who start work before 4am are not being given health checks to ensure they are safe to drive. They allege that some are being made to work 15-hour days up to three times a week.

Union officials are also claiming that drivers are only able to take breaks when their lorries are being unloaded and loaded.

Mr Plumb added: “We hope that Maria Eagle will raise these concerns with transport secretary Justine Greening, as these alleged abuses could be mirrored elsewhere in the UK.”

The union has said there is no sign yet that industrial action will be taken at the companies involved. However, they have threatened to name the companies unless there is a quick resolution to the matter.

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