UK Christmas garbage collection threatened by resignation of truck drivers

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Households are warned of a “Christmas crisis” in garbage collection as drivers quit their jobs for better pay working for supermarkets and food haulers.

Garbage truck drivers are being offered salary offers worth up to £ 40,000 a year to move on to jobs in the food industry. A Lancashire council said last week it had lost nearly half of its drivers in the past three months.

Residents of Devon councils in London in Peterborough have already seen some collections suspended or delayed. There have also been complaints of overflowing ferries and missed tours in areas affected by staff shortages. Garbage truck drivers who earn around £ 25,000 a year can increase their wages by over 60% by working for supermarkets, food haulers or online retailers.

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, the trade body representing the UK waste management industry, said there was a job vacancy rate of around 15% among contractors in waste management.

He called on the government to include heavy truck drivers in the list of shortage occupations and to increase the number of truck driving tests to avoid a “Christmas crisis”. He said. “The UK is short of more than 100,000 heavy truck drivers, resulting in disrupted collections that will only come under increased pressure as Christmas approaches – when waste volumes typically increase by 30%. “

The latest figures from the Local Government Association’s workforce survey show that waste disposal services in more than half of the responding councils in England and Wales were disrupted by staff shortages.

The Ribble Valley council in Lancashire said last week that six of its 13 drivers had resigned and it was struggling to fill the posts. Stephen Atkinson, Head of Council, said: “We maintain full service, but we are seeing huge turnover of drivers. “

Devon Council leaders have warned that there are vacancy rates of up to 20% for garbage truck drivers. Alistair Dewhirst, deputy head of Teignbridge council in south Devon, said the council had 11 vacancies in its team of 52 drivers in its waste collection service and the councils were in competition with supermarkets and their suppliers for drivers. He said: “There has always been a risk of poaching drivers, but we’ve never seen anything like it. We also need to collect more waste because of people working from home. ”

Councils in Devon, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Cambridgeshire have suspended garden waste services. Haringey’s council in north London said last week its garbage collections could be delayed for up to 72 hours “due to the effects of the nation’s shortage of heavy truck drivers. [have] on our operations ”.

Croydon City Council in South London has informed residents of the ‘serious’ impact on waste collection services due to the driver shortage, advising residents that their waste management teams are’ you will arrive as soon as possible ”.

Nadia Sawalha, the actor, who lives in south London, tweeted earlier this month: “Croydon’s advice !! Massive bills from you and only one of my trash was taken? !! Where am I supposed to put my garbage ??? ” Another Croydon resident tweeted: ‘Local service is failing and residents are left with overflowing trash cans / horrible smells. “

Amey and Veolia, two of the largest municipal waste service contractors, are now offering sign-up bonuses of £ 1,500 to hire drivers for municipal waste collection services.

Simon Ellin, CEO of the Recycling Association, which represents some of the major companies involved in waste collection and recycling, said: “The shortage of truck drivers is having a profound impact. If you are a driver, you can go to the highest bidder and these are often supermarket carriers. It increases costs for everyone.

David Renard, head of the Swindon council and LGA spokesperson for the environment, said the councils were working with the government to support more training. He said: “The rapid inflation of wages for heavy truck drivers in the private sector risks exacerbating problems in the public sector, with increases potentially creating retention as well as a recruitment problem for boards and their sub. -treaters. “

A spokesperson said the government had increased the capacity of heavy truck driving tests. ‘We are moving towards a high-wage, high-skill economy and the government is encouraging all sectors to adapt and make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers by providing them with training, career options and salary increases. ”

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