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With every passing month, the crisis at Calais seems to get worse for HGV drivers. Vehicles attempting to cross into the UK from the port are now frequently the target of relentless migrants who will seemingly stop at nothing to get aboard a lorry or bus without being found out. Even horsebox trailers are not safe in Calais. Things may be changing soon if a recent meeting with the regional government results in any actionable strategies.

HGV UK reports that the regional government in Calais recently hosted a strategy session involving industry organisations and political leaders. In attendance was the Road Haulage Association (RHA), one of the leading industry trade groups representing logistics companies in the UK. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said in his official comments following the meeting that “all those present were of the same firm opinion that the issue must be addressed by those on both sides of the Channel.”

Although details were fleeting, Burnett attempted to reassure HGV drivers and the industry-at-large that the regional government was duly impressed with their need to do something about the migrants on their side of the crossing. Burnett said that regional representatives have promised to take their concerns to the French national government, where they will work to come up with practical solutions. Now we will wait to see if anything actually happens.

Work and Safety Issues Combined

The trouble at Calais started a few years ago when massive waves of migrants from Africa and the Middle East began leaving their troubled nations in the hope of a better life in the UK. They chose the UK due to our open door policy. Migrants need only set foot on UK soil to be eligible for all of the social benefits we provide. Though many believe this is good, providing a social safety net to the entire world has created an untenable situation in Calais.

While politicians and police authorities try to work things out, the HGV driver is left in the middle. Drivers have very real concerns about both work and safety-related issues. Where work is concerned, drivers are only allowed to drive for a certain number of hours per day. The problems at Calais are causing significant delays that cut into driver’s hours.

More important are the safety issues HGV drivers are concerned about. Violence against drivers is not widespread yet, but there are concerns that things might change. There have been a few isolated attacks on drivers who have tried to prevent migrants from boarding their vehicles. Drivers now have to be very careful whenever approaching the port or stopping in line to wait their turn for inspection.

For the sake of HGV drivers and their employers, we are hoping the French government comes up with actionable solutions in the very near future. We cannot afford to jeopardise the road haulage industry by allowing migrants to threaten economic activity, individual livelihoods, and personal safety.

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