Post-Brexit customs checks at the port of Dover, which the transport industry has warned could lead to 30 mile lorry queues in Kent, are a worrying prospect for Unite members who regularly cross the Channel.
UPS convenor Albert Graham said memories are still fresh amongst the firm’s drivers of the last time Dover faced major gridlock – during the 2015 Calais migrant crisis.
Graham said: “We send around 50 trucks a day across the channel. You can imagine, its like a bus service and our guys ended up being stuck. Some of them were queuing for up to five hours.
“We’re worried about similar scenes after Brexit, which could force the whole business model to change. We’ve fought long and hard for our T&Cs and I believe UPS is at the top its game in that regard.
“But if there’s delays getting stock through, there’s going to be an impact on job security.”
Currently, by the time many UPS drivers travel from the UK to the EU and back, they are approaching the legal limit for driving time and earning overtime.
If there are long custom queues at Dover, which handles a massive 17 per cent of the UK’s total trade in goods, jobs and livelihoods will be harmed, explained Graham.
“They’d obviously have to review how things are operating. Transport firms won’t want to be paying drivers for spending hours at the border and taking more breaks because of the extra time they spend in their cabs,” said Graham.
“That means potentially using low-cost subcontractors, which means our guys jobs will be dramatically cut. They’d say ‘we pay you to get from A to B with our load – how you do it is your problem’.
“It will be a race to the bottom for the industry, especially if EU regulations like the Working Time Directive are scrapped.”