Brexit: ETF warns of chaos in road transport with port delays at UK border

28 Sep 2020

The ETF has addressed a letter to the EU-UK Brexit Negotiation Taskforce to express and share UNITE the UNION’s concerns that Brexit will come with chaos and confusion on the UK border with delays at ports due to incomplete IT systems.

The lack of progress in the EU-UK negotiations given the short time remaining before the end of the year will negatively affect professional drivers:

A recently leaked document by the UK government confirms our worst fears: queues of 7,000 lorries in Kent once Brexit comes into effect on 31 December and two-day delays to cross into the EU.

Unions and professional drivers fear that the software won’t be ready by the time the UK’s transition phase ends on 31 December 2020. Thus, leaving them no time to become accustomed to complex new border arrangements. Will coach and truck drivers, who are in no way responsible for arranging customs declarations, face personal fines if they are found travelling to ports without the correct electronic documentation? The answer is certainly ‘they must not’!

Moreover, with regard to parking areas, the locations of the vast majority of parking areas have still not been announced let alone developed. It’s very likely that these parking areas will be devoid of any amenities and services. Drivers will be stuck in their cabs for hours and hours without any access to clean toilets, washing, food or rest facilities.

With all this, short-haul journeys to continental Europe and back will become a fatigue-trap and waiting time for border clearance will account for most of the driver’s time. After eleven hours of queuing at the border, even if this means staying put in a parking area, they will then have to continue their driving activities. Driver fatigue and precarious working conditions will be on the rise – putting the health and safety of drivers at risk as well as the safety of our roads.

The ETF calls on all the Brexit negotiating parties to negotiate in full awareness that the future of skilled work in road transport depends on the solutions they find to this problem in the months to come. Trade unions should be involved in the preparations for any scenario, and the Commission must take heed and reach out to Member States in order to ensure this.

The message is clear: our workforce must not pay the price for the UK government’s errors in managing Brexit – no to a bare-bones deal that doesn’t contain any solid commitments towards preventing a race to the bottom by respecting a level-playing field!