Monday, July 4, 2022

Ending sexism ‘would help end lorry driver crisis’

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Ending sexism would help prevent lorry driver crisis
Stephanie Pearce said women are ready to step in and fill the shortfall in HGV drivers, but the industry needs to become less sexist first (Picture: Wales News Service)

Women could solve Britain’s HGV crisis – but only if the industry sorts itself out and tackles a culture of sexism, a female trucker has said.

A shortage of qualified HGV drivers has caused supply problems at UK petrol stations, empty shelves in supermarkets and even Nando’s to run out of chicken in recent weeks.

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But one trucker says a lack of drivers could be solved if the male-dominated industry made itself more welcoming to women.

Stephanie Pearce, from Blackwood in south Wales, said women are ready to step in to fill the shortfall in HGV drivers but many are being put off by a lack of facilities at truck stops and prejudice from male drivers.

The 30-year-old, who set up her business 2 Sisters Haulage Ltd in 2019, said it is rare to see other women on the road.

She said: ‘The amount of comments you get from men – they patronise you the whole time.

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‘You have to be a far better driver than you would normally have to be to prove to them you can do it.

‘You just have to put up with it.’

Ending sexism would help prevent lorry driver crisis
Stephanie Pearce, from Blackwood in south Wales, runs 2 Sisters Haulage Ltd supplying HGV transport to the construction industry (Picture: Wales News Service)
The Petrol crisis Fuel shortage is seen here in full force as huge queues are seen waiting for petrol at Shell Petrol stations in both Hayes, Bromley & South Norwood, Croydon. The Petrol crisis Fuel shortage in the UK currently has been created due to a lack of qualified HGV drivers to transport the petrol & diesel to the Service stations. 03 Oct 2021 Pictured: Shell Petrol Station, Hayes, Bromley, Kent, South East London, Queue, Cars, Petrol, Diesel,. Photo credit: DAN/MEGA +1 888 505 6342
A shortage of HGV drivers has caused petrol pumps to run dry as there have not been enough drivers to deliver fuel (Picture: MEGA)

Now, she is calling on the industry to change and to tackle ‘prejudice’ on the forecourts.

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She said: ‘There are no facilities for women. No facilities. It’s not good for anyone’s mental health.

‘There’s absolutely nothing at the truck parks.

‘During Covid all the toilets at the petrol stations were closed too. It was horrendous.’

Stephanie turned to driving lorries for Tesco in lockdown when there was a lack of work in the construction industry.

She said after finally being able to return to her business she had also been hit by the fuel crisis.

‘Now the work is there but I can’t get the fuel. It’s hard enough being the owner of the firm as it is,’ she added.

In an attempt to fill the shortage of HGV drivers, the Government drafted in the military to drive lorries and sent out one million letters to HGV licence holders to try and encourage them back behind the wheel.

But many within the industry are warning supply problems could persist well into the winter months, and even impact Christmas.

Surveys showed one in six shoppers said they have been unable to buy the vital products they need in the last two weeks.

Businesses have taken different approaches to dealing with supply shortages with one pub in Aylesbury deciding to adopt an inverse menu of dishes it couldn’t offer diners.

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