// Aldi increases the salary of lorry drivers to help address driver shortage crisis

// Comes after Tesco said it would offer drivers a £1000 joining bonus with the company

// The “pandemic” and Brexit have been blamed for the HGV driver shortage, impacting retailers up and down the country

Aldi has become the latest grocer to hike the wages it pays to lorry drivers as part of efforts to keep shelves stocked amid a wider HGV driver shortage crisis.

According to The Sunday Times, Aldi increased its lorry driver wages as UK retail reels from a nationwide shortage in HGV drivers.

It comes after Tesco last week revealed it was offering a £1000 joining bonus to lorry drivers who join the Big 4 grocer from July 1 and before the end of September.

Tesco’s Booker wholesale division has also reportedly provided a temporary £5-an-hour pay rise for its  Hemel Hempstead depot drivers, according to the Unite union.

The offers come after supermarkets had to reassure customers last month that there was no need to panic buy following pictures of half-empty shelves and reports of temporary shortages.

A “perfect storm” of aggravating factors was blamed for the situation, including self-isolating workers and prior staff shortages brought about by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BRC recently warned that staff shortages, caused by large numbers of workers self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app, was “putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and keep shelves stocked”.

The impact of the so-called “pingdemic” was also being seen in factories, bakeries and meat processing plants.

The UK Government has since introduced emergency measures which it says will protect food supplies, allowing thousands of workers to avoid the need to self-isolate if identified as a contact of a Covid case.

Critical workplaces in the food supply chain are being prioritised for targeted daily testing, which will allow eligible workers identified as Covid contacts to continue working if they test negative.

Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association previously said it believes there is a shortfall of about 60,000 haulage drivers in the UK after around 30,000 HGV driving tests did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hauliers blamed the shortage on a large proportion of drivers being foreign nationals from European countries who had returned to the EU amid Brexit changes, combined with truck drivers not being included on the government’s list of skilled labour, leaving new arrivals needing immigration paperwork.

(source: The Sunday Times)