A recent investigation launched by the BBC into Ikea’s haulage network has revealed the shocking circumstances of many of its drivers.
The investigation found evidence that truckers are paid as little as £3 an hour, meaning that they can’t afford accommodation on long trips. This forces them into using their trucks as homes and washing stations for weeks and in some instances, months at a time.
The BBC investigating the issue interviewed an anonymous truck driver at a Lincolnshire lorry stop, he claimed that:
“We spend a lot of time living in lay-bys where there are no toilets, no showers, no facilities…The work is paid a bit better than what I would get in Poland, but this life is not good. I do it for my family”
Indeed, Mick Cash, the leader of the RMT transport union has commented on the issue, isolating the EU Single Market as the issue that is allowing “social dumping”.
Cash continues to state that:
“Any EU legislation that allegedly prevents social dumping is just window dressing and is being ignored with impunity.”
Furthermore, Cash also explains how loopholes in EU laws are being exploited by big businesses in order to further their economic benefit without caring about the welfare of their employees. He states that: “It is glaringly obvious that there are no controls in place, or sanctions against companies that actively encourage social dumping on an industrial scale, in a relentless drive to the bottom in the pursuit of corporate profits.”
The problem stems from the fact that employees from countries such as Ukraine and Poland are being paid at the equivalent of their home minimum wage, whilst working abroad in countries that have a much higher expenses.
However, it is not just the economic shortcomings that have shocked investigators, they have also found that drivers exploited by EU Single Market loopholes are unable to stick to the 45 hours rest a week that has been designated by EU law.
The Road Haulage Association have also commented on the topic, stating that they have seen an increase in foreign vehicles on UK roads that have not complied with driver’s hours and road worthiness regulations. The Directory of policy at RHA, Jack Semple told the BBC that:
“[The government] have to get a grip on this because big, well-known UK retailers and other companies are making increasing use of these firms because they don’t cost very much. But they’re costing the UK,”
Ikea have commented in response to the investigation, and have told SM that it was of their upmost priority that their drivers had fair working conditions. They stated that:
“Through our supplier code of conduct, Iway, we put clear and strict demands on our transport service providers when it comes to wages, working conditions and following applicable legislation.”