In response to the current HGV driver shortage, the UK government has announced plans to extend so-called ‘cabotage’ rights.
The term ‘cabotage’ refers to the practice of domestic road movements of freight being undertaken by foreign-registered trucks. Under the new rules, foreign drivers will be allowed to make an unlimited number of pick-ups and drop-offs within a two-week period. Currently, drivers from the EU are only allowed to make two cabotage trips within a seven-day period.
The temporary measures are proposed to come into force at the end of this year and could last for up to six months.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the changes to cabotage would “make sure foreign hauliers in the UK can use their time effectively and get more goods moving in the supply chain at a time of high demand”.
Most cabotage journeys across western Europe are carried out by eastern European trucks, which operate at lower cost in a higher cost environment. Unions and trade bodies have expressed concerns that the decision to relax cabotage rules will lead to domestic hauliers being undercut at a time when wages are rising.
Trade associations, meanwhile, have suggested that overseas firms have lower safety regulations, including regarding the treatment and pay of drivers, which could lead to worker exploitation.
On the other hand, trade body Logistics UK has said the measures could help with the driver shortage while more drivers are recruited, trained and tested – but that they must be time-limited.
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