Edwin Atema, head of research and enforcement at the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), spoke s about the current struggles drivers are facing. The UK Government has proposed offering lorry drivers unlimited deliveries over a two-week period in a bid to attract labour from overseas.
Under current rules, drivers from the EU can only make two trips to deliver goods each week.
But Mr Atema said the proposal will encourage “legal exploitation” in the UK.
He told BBC News: “This proposal will legalise exploitation in the UK.
“It will be like pouring oil on the fire of a broken industry.”
He added: “They are trying to ruin the industry even more than it already is.
“HGV drivers we’re speaking to are simply laughing.
“Does the government really think we’ll come to the UK to fix a broken industry?”
The suggestion prompted outrage among UK haulage groups.
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Rod McKenzie, the Royal Haulage Association’s policy director said: “I spoke to some of our members last night and they were appalled — ‘ridiculous’, ‘pathetic’, ‘gobsmacked’ were some of their more broadcastable comments.
“Allowing overseas companies and drivers to come over for perhaps up to six months on a fortnightly basis to do unlimited work at low rates, undercutting UK hauliers.”
Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, also criticised the relaxation, suggesting it is not good enough.
Mr McMahon said: “Allowing HGV drivers multi-drops and pick-ups ‘cabotage’ should have been included in the [Brexit] withdrawal agreement, and it should apply to British hauliers working in the EU too.
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European Movement UK called upon the UK to make visas more accessible and lorry driver jobs more appealing.
They tweeted: “You can’t have your cake and eat it; temporary visas aren’t the solution.
“We need to be open and welcoming.”