Union leaders have attacked moves to extend the relaxation of lorry drivers’ hours amid the current shortage of workers in the sector.
Unite said the maximum number of hours that drivers can drive, due to end on Sunday, will be extended to the end of October.
Ministers are to consider extending the change into the new year, said Unite.
General secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is yet another knee-jerk response to a crisis which has been building for nearly 20 years – and the blame for that lies entirely at the door of the employers, and their willing partners, the Government”
“Years of suppressing drivers’ pay and attacking their working conditions has led us to where we are now.
“Far from tackling the current crisis, this latest extension on drivers’ hours will increase the pressures of the job and, as a result, further endanger public safety on the roads. This expediency will end in failure.”
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The Government’s response to the lorry driver crisis has been to extend driving hours, reduce training requirements, water down tests and weaken the licence required to drive a tanker. This is a highly dangerous cocktail and will only lessen safety on the UK’s roads.
“The Government is still not addressing the reasons why the industry is haemorrhaging lorry drivers. By making the remaining drivers work longer, they may even force more drivers to walk away.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “The set of measures we have introduced to alleviate HGV driver shortages do not compromise on safety.
“The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules allows HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but this must only be used where necessary and safely, and the changes to the testing process will not change the standard of driving required to drive an HGV.”