Will bin men solve supply chain crisis?

Refuse workers are being headhunted by HGV firms trying to plug a shortfall of 100,000 lorry drivers that has emptied shelves amid an ongoing supply chain crisis.

A lack of lorry drivers and food processors in Britain has been partly blamed on the new Brexit visa regime introduced on January 1, which penalises lower-skilled migrants in favour of those with qualifications.

But global factors are relevant too, bosses say, including Chinese port closures and a lack of shipping containers during the Covid pandemic - as well as the cancellation of HGV tests during the crisis.

With shop shelves emptied, local councils now claim refuse workers are being approached to fill the shortage, where starting jobs now start at around £50,000 as demand outstrips supply.

However, officials have warned that bin and recycling staff are being recruited live on their rounds - which they fear may disrupt collections and lead to an increased volume of uncollected waste.

Tony Wilkinson from the North Somerset Environment Company told the BBC it lost five employees in the past two weeks and said 'a lot of drivers are getting poached' with offers from big companies.

Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council's cabinet member responsible for waste, said one of its drivers was poached last week after working for the company for eleven years - and offered a 10 per cent hike in earnings.

'We really couldn't ask for a more dedicated team out on the rounds and I am very grateful to all of them for everything they've been doing,' he told the broadcaster.

'But the staff shortages - caused predominantly by the widespread shortage of HGV drivers - have reached the level where we know we are not going to have enough people available to provide the garden waste service for the next two weeks.

'HGV driver recruitment is an issue affecting the whole country with the Road Haulage Association estimating a shortfall of 100,000 drivers nationally.

'We are working hard to find ways to remedy the crisis locally and will have a clearer picture on compensation for our customers and what we'll do to mitigate further impacts within the next two weeks.

'However, this situation will not be resolved quickly without government intervention which is why we are also lobbying our MPs and ministers to fix things. I'm sorry that this temporary interruption to the service will inconvenience people.'

Source: Daily Mail