Grading review secured for BT Supply Chain drivers

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Longstanding CWU demands for a review of the grading of HGV drivers in BT Supply Chain have finally been given the green light amid mounting management concerns that the company will struggle to retain experienced drivers in the face of a deepening driver shortage.

While union calls for a proper reassessment of appropriate remuneration levels for HGV drivers pre-date the current worldwide pressure on the haulage industry that was triggered in part by the Covid pandemic – but exacerbated in the UK by Brexit and a massive backlog of HGV driver tests – the company has now bowed to classic market forces that are resulting in textbook wage inflation for those with the scarcest skill-sets.

With rival logistics companies already actively poaching drivers from lower-paying organisations, Supply Chains has confirmed this week that it is shoring up its logistical resilience by creating 48 new permanent roles across its transport business.

Simultaneously the company announced a range of new “temporary” allowances, backdated to September 1,  that will see all HGV class 1 and 2 drivers receive a special supplement of £100 per week (a monthly payment of £433.33) – with van drivers receiving a lower supplement of £50 a week (£216.67 a month).

Bosses are insisting, however, that the allowances are time-limited, that they are based on “current market conditions”  and that,  following a review every quarter, if and when it is determined that the supplements will end, drivers will be given three months notice of the cessation.

Recently elected CWU national officer for Supply Chain, Tracey Fussey, said: “Whilst the National Team welcomes the creation of additional permanent roles across the business, we do not believe that the introduction of a temporary driving allowance is an acceptable solution to a longstanding grading issue for HGV drivers in BT Supply Chain.

“The Road Haulage Association has determined a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000, and a consequence of the shortage is that wages for some drivers within the haulage and logistics industry have been increasing with drivers demanding more money and companies fighting over the same pools of workers with incentives and retention bonuses.

“The CWU’s national team has robustly represented that the step taken by Supply Chain to deal with the challenge via the introduction of a temporary allowance is not an acceptable solution.

“We are firmly of the belief that a permanent solution is required which remunerates our members correctly – hence the reason that a formal grading review has been requested – and are pleased  to advise that the company has confirmed its commitment to carry out just such a review.

“We’re now seeking a meeting to commence those discussions without delay – and will be keeping members and branches fully updated as talks progress,” Tracey concludes.