Thousands of army drivers on “stand-by” notice to deliver essential food amid driver shortage crisis

The Army has reportedly been put on a “five-day stand-by notice” to help deliver essential food to supermarkets as the driver shortage continues to plague the UK.

Thousands of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from the UK’s armed forces have been put on stand-by to help solve the ongoing supply chain crisis, according to The Sun.  

“Messages are being sent out to all Army personnel with HGV qualifications,” an anonymous source told the publication over the weekend.

“They are being put on (a) five-day stand-by notice for driving jobs at major distribution centres around the country.

“Soldiers will be put up in hotels where necessary and will be working extended hours to assist with the crisis.

“They will be involved with food distribution as well as the transportation of other essential goods and medical supplies.”

READ MORE: Driver shortage will mean empty shelves at Christmas as UK set for “6-12 months of challenge”

Despite this no formal request has been received by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the government has continued to deny plans to involve the army are on the table.

It comes a deficit of some 100,000 lorry drivers continues to impact the UK, leading to empty shelves, containers full of rotting fruit and supply chain chaos that industry leaders believe could last up to 12 months.

While numerous leading figures, including Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, have called for the army to be brought in to ease pressure on hauliers experts are now warning even that would not be enough to solve the crisis.

The Road Haulage Association’s managing director of policy and public affairs Rod McKenzie said: “The Government’s next step is to bring in the Army. There are 2,000 qualified HGV drivers in the Army. (But) we’re 100,000 lorry drivers short.

“Another issue is Army drivers are used to driving Army lorries and not civilian vehicles. Once again, they are using a short-term fix. It is not a good idea. We need to address what to do to get another 100,000 drivers.”

In response, a government spokesperson said: “The recent pandemic has proven that the UK has a large, diverse and highly resilient food supply chain that has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

“We are working closely with the haulage industry to understand and address recent pressures. There are no suggestions or plans to use military support and no requests have been made.”

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • This shortage was foreseen and the companies buried their heads and hoped for continued cheap labour it is not the Governments job to bail out the companies

  • What is wrong with people?? This has been ongoing for years. But companies and successive governments fail to address the needs of one of our countries most valuable assets, namely our HGV Drivers.
    One of the main issues at the moment is that thanks to the pandemic and the general public panic buying, the shops have some empty shelves. The system isn’t set up to deal with that scenario. It is set up to replace what is expected to be sold. To fill empty shelves we need more capacity in the vehicles. That isn’t there… so it takes months to overcome.
    These Drivers have been working to peak capacity e.g. Christmas for almost 2 years. They’re tired. Due to the shortage of drivers, there isn’t the availability of holidays, because they are trying to plug the gap. So they’re getting more tired.
    Drivers driving tired isn’t ever a good idea. So our government has come up with the idea of letting them drive / work more by tweaking the laws to allow them to do so. They are also trying to push through new drivers by making the test easier… no coupling or uncoupling trailers, no reversing exercises during test or training… what could possibly go wrong???
    Money doesn’t come close to addressing all of the shortfalls. Decent toilets, decent meals, decent parking facilities would also go someway to fixing whats wrong.
    There is also the issue of being away from home for most of the week, sleeping in a very small area… without a toilet or shower. There isn’t any other profession that puts up with so much crap for so little in return. Let’s at least have some basic respect, and build from there!


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