Driver Welfare

Fixing driver shortages: New global plan launched by employers and unions

Employers and unions have launched a new global plan to address driver shortages in the road transport industry. The plan, introduced by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), aims to alleviate driver shortages, ensure better working conditions for drivers working abroad, and simplify and enforce rules for workers and employers.

According to Umberto de Pretto, the Secretary General of IRU, driver shortages have become a pressing issue. To resolve the problem and maintain essential road transport services, he suggests balancing global labor supply and demand through simple measures such as easing legal immigration and preventing the exploitation of non-resident drivers.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton emphasized the need for collaboration between governments, transport employers, multinational customers, and trade unions to establish decent working conditions and put an end to driver shortages. He emphasized the importance of cooperation among stakeholders to ensure fair work practices, labor rights, and social protections.

The plan highlights three key actions to be undertaken by the United Nations, national governments, and the industry:

1. UN and international organizations should develop a global framework with clear guidelines to safeguard non-resident drivers, improve working conditions, promote social cohesion, and standardize qualification requirements across borders.

2. National governments should amend and enforce labor immigration procedures to protect non-resident drivers. They should also reduce bureaucratic hurdles to facilitate legal immigration for current and potential drivers. Additionally, governments should promote the recognition of qualifications from third countries through bilateral agreements, invest in and strengthen the enforcement of road transport laws and regulations, and provide subsidies for domestic training and integration programs.

3. Road transport operators should implement operational integration programs to ensure that non-resident drivers receive the same working conditions as their domestic counterparts. They should also support training, skills management, and certification processes.

The plan aims to strike a balance in the national labor pools by addressing the disparities between countries with a surplus and those with a deficit of qualified drivers. It emphasizes that the plan should not supersede existing national initiatives or compromise safety standards and worker conditions.

The global shortage of professional truck, bus, coach, and taxi drivers is reaching critical levels, affecting millions of workers, employers, and transport services. In 2022, approximately 11% of driver positions remained unfilled, and this number is expected to more than double by 2026 due to the impending retirement of one-third of drivers in many countries.

While governments, unions, and operators are taking various measures to address the issue, further action is necessary. Additional solutions include subsidizing license and training costs, constructing secure parking areas with improved facilities, encouraging greater representation of women and young people in the profession, and enhancing the treatment of drivers and understanding of their profession.