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The Immigrant Lorry Crisis

When it comes to news reports involving the professional driving industry, there is a scarcity in themes. Largely, reports fall into three categories; road accidents involving HGVs, the implications that Brexit may have and the ‘illegal immigrant lorry crisis’. The immigrant crisis, as it’s labelled, is a topic which we at Barnes are yet to speak on, and it is a topic that can be difficult to discuss as there are various elements to it – but as an issue which can compromise the safety of hardworking professional drivers, it is one we feel compelled to explore.

A story of ‘illegal immigrants’ recently circulated the British tabloids; eleven people, including three children and a baby, entered the UK by lorry, only surviving their journey by eating the chocolate that the haulier was carrying. The circumstances surrounding this particular story are not uncommon; the group had boarded the lorry as it travelled from mainland Europe and then secured the vehicle in such a way that it could not be easily opened again, reducing the likelihood of them being found before reaching their desired destination. Although this narrative is a commonality, it is important to consider that not all who secretly stow themselves away are criminals, in many cases, the very act of illegal hitch-hiking appears desperate and involves a significant level of risk to it, suggesting that it is entirely possible that the people found on board were refugees or asylum seekers who simply hoped for a safer life based in the UK.

 

In such situations, regardless of the circumstances of the stowaway, it is also important for us to address how drivers can deal with such situations, as ensuring their safety is paramount. Unfortunately, many professional drivers feel let down by the existingHYPERLINK “https://www.gov.uk/guidance/secure-your-vehicle-to-help-stop-illegal-immigration” legalities; as it currently stands, legislation states that drivers must secure their lorry in a way that would prevent anyone from entering the trailer. In the event of a ‘clandestine entrant’ being found on board, drivers can face a fine of £2000 per person found on board. Even if the driver did not willingly or knowingly transport them, they face the fine as it demonstrates that their vehicle security measures have failed, and were therefore insufficient. These penalties are severe, particularly when the majority of drivers are not intentionally smuggling people across borders; in many cases, the desperation of stowaways can overcome the efforts of the driver, and there have been multiple cases reported where the driver has checked, rechecked, and even passed through specialised scanning equipment, but all have failed to detect any bodies on board. In such instances, the driver truly cannot be held accountable; if advanced technology fails to find stowaways, how could the driver be expected to? And yet many miles later, when eventually discovered, both the driver and stowaways face being detained.

 

It seems that the system of fining and detaining has fuelled anger towards immigrants who cross borders on lorries. Make no mistake, we are certainly not encouraging, agreeing with or promoting illegal immigration, but, we urge both the government and public to consider the safety of both the driver and immigrants. Our hardworking drivers should not be penalised or faced with potential penalties in these events, nor should they be locked away in a cell whilst investigations are begun.

 

As a business that operates within the logistics industry, we know that drivers are experiencing this far too commonly, and as a result, better systems are needed immediately, as they cannot continue to be subjected to the physical, emotional and financial stress that comes with the discovery of unknown passengers in their vehicle and the legalities that follow. If the circumstances are not addressed, we fear that drivers will continue down this same road for the foreseeable future, but we are hopeful that if we, and others alike, continue to raise awareness of this issue, policy makers will be encouraged to take necessary action.

 

Please share with us how you think our country can better protect our professional drivers by dropping us a tweet.

Why is There No National Logistics Day?

August has long been known as ‘silly season’; this month alone we have seen National Afternoon Tea Week, National Left-Handed Day, National Prosecco Day and National Dog Day. Despite the seemingly arbitrary nature of such days, they have become a daily commonality, so much so that the media has now passed comment; Radio 1 recently took to doubting the necessity of having days dedicated to somewhat ridiculous causes – if they can be defined as a ‘cause’ that is. In reality, national days are little more than a marketing ploy. Admittedly, the marketing invention has proven undeniably successful, although perhaps most frustratingly it seems to be more successful for the bizarre national days rather than those that are truly in need of awareness, such as those that recognise illnesses or socio-economic issues. However, this got us thinking that there were perhaps issues and industries that are not allocated an awareness day, despite being arguably more important than the likes of ‘National Lazy Day’. There are various occupations and sectors that are vital to the UK economy and yet receive very little recognition, so here at Barnes we delve deeper into the question that, in our opinion, bares no rational answer – why is there is no National Logistics Day?

In recent months, we have expressed a belief that often, consumers are unaware of the process that brings the deliveries to their doorsteps and items to their local shops. Whilst a national day celebrating this process may help to bring about greater awareness, it also opens up an opportunity for what we would consider to be more significant still; it would allow for companies, industry bodies and the general public to celebrate the people behind logistics. It is vital to remember that although the supply chain process needs to be considered when making purchases, behind the packing, warehouse stocking and truck driving is a human being who is dedicated to providing a much-needed service. And with pressure mounting in the midst of a driver shortage crisis and the risk to businesses of losing employees due to Brexit, a National Day in which the nation and employers could come together may just be what is needed to remind logistics employees why their dedication matters, and could help towards boosting the industry’s image by promoting it as a brilliant career path that values their own.

The Road Haulage Association has made progress towards a day of this kind; for the past four years the industry body has hosted a ‘National Lorry Week’ in September. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it places emphasis on the machinery as opposed to those who operate it. Additionally, it only promotes a narrow view of the logistics industry – whilst we appreciate that the RHA is a supporting body for road transport operators, the campaign leaves warehousing and storage specialists out of the celebration. A ‘National Logistics Day’ on the other hand would offer greater inclusivity of the entire supply chain.

Here at Barnes, we are always actively campaigning on behalf of logistic employees, from ensuring that all their rights are addressed to supporting workplace wellbeing. Under the umbrella term of wellbeing falls appreciation, as it truly does affect individual welfare. To address the concerns raised within this piece, we propose that National Lorry Week is combined with National Logistics Day, for even if these events go unrecognised to the general public, receiving acknowledgement from employers will boost morale, motivation and commitment. With persistence, this movement has the capability to achieve public attention which would subsequently aid the driver shortage and influence the consumer behaviour which has become so dependent on the supply chain. We argue that a day celebrating the supply chain has only positive outcomes.

With National Lorry Week just three weeks away, the opportunity to incorporate a wider element is there. Let us know how you plan on recognising your employers by dropping us a Tweet.