Last reviewed 13 July 2021

Lack of drivers has been a recurring theme in recent weeks (see “Shortage of HGV drivers places business recovery at risk” and “Government must act on driver shortage”) being blamed, among other things, for a shortage of Haribo sweets.

Now, according to the Unite union, it is at least partly responsible for lorry drivers employed by Great Bear Distribution — who work on the Unilever contract at Port Sunlight — having secured an inflation beating pay deal.

The 18-month pay deal for the drivers, who deliver soap, shower gels and detergents, will see all elements of pay increase by 12.32%. Overtime rates will also increase from time-and-a-third to time-and-a-half, with double time paid if drivers undertake additional shifts.

Highlighting the national shortage of lorry drivers, Unite has said that employers are being charged “extortionate rates” by employment agencies when they need to recruit drivers.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “The pay deal should remove the need for Great Bear Distribution to rely on agency labour in the future.”

With skilled lorry drivers having seen their pay and conditions driven down for too long, he continued, the highly demanding industry has become increasingly unattractive to new entrants and the existing workforce.

“The problems in the lorry driving sector will not be resolved until all employers follow the example of Great Bear Distribution and work with Unite to ensure that drivers are fairly paid and well treated,” he concluded.

Unite has recently launched a manifesto to improve pay and conditions for HGV drivers and to try to reverse the severe shortages of qualified drivers that the industry is currently facing.

See www.unitetheunion.org for full details.