Nothing New

Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Posted By Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. On 2023-07-07 20:06:50

The tagline beside my ruggedly handsome face above my stories reads, His story shows us once again that drivers' problems are universal.

A couple of the stories I read in the May-June magazine issue reminded me that companies using and abusing inexperienced drivers are nothing new, even across the pond.           

Over here, it goes way back, even to the early days of my driving career. So, in transport, nothing is new.

One night I was doing my pre-trip checks when a young delivery driver came in. He had been told to deliver to our warehouse, and he asked if I could back his truck in for him as he wasn't very good at reversing. I didn't have the time to wait until that door was clear as I was due to leave, but I told him how to place his truck for the best angle. He also had no idea how many hours a day he could legally work or how many days he could work before taking rest days. He had already worked six days and was leaving our yard to go south that night. I would imagine his licence was brand new, but working like that, I knew he wouldn't keep it very long.

But, that's how it was back in the good old/bad old days. Some firms turned a blind eye to drivers running over their hours as long as the loads were delivered. The old paper log books were easily circumvented before paper tachograph cards and digital tachographs came in. Some drivers had two books, one with a fictitious name on it and one with their name on it.

It might only be hearsay or drivers joking among themselves, but when I was regularly running into the IBM plant in Greenock, a local transport company had the name of wanting their money's worth from their drivers. The rumour was if a young driver applied for a job, the boss asked them how long they thought they could go without sleep. If the young driver said, oh, I don't know, a day, maybe two, the boss would reply, we don't need a yard shunter right now.

Then, just like in Canada, foreign drivers came to work in the UK. The driver agencies took them on because they had a quota to fill with the big supermarket delivery hubs.      

My buddy told me he was working the night shift with a big multi-national supermarket called Tesco when a guy with a foreign accent approached him and asked him to hook up his trailer for him. 

Did he even have a licence if he couldn't hook a truck to a trailer? What did he show the agency when they put him on their books? Was it somebody else's licence? Did the agency and the supermarket transport department even check his licence?
I used to change trailers with a Polish driver called Yan. He was a great guy and even taught me some Polish words. He said the English weren't as good as the Scots at pronouncing Polish words. Not surprising when you hear reporters on TV saying Lock Lomond when it should be Loch Lomond.   


His son worked in the same depot, and if Yan was called into the office, he had to take his son in with him to translate and make sure he understood what was being said to him. Unfortunately, Yan was sacked when he tried to take a 16-foot-tall double-deck trailer under a 15-foot 9-inch bridge, so maybe it wasn't just the spoken language he had a problem with.     

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