Tarmac’s plan to roll out new night-time shift rates will slash operators’ earnings and add further pressure to firms already struggling to survive the pandemic, hauliers warned this week.
The new payment scheme is being rolled out nationally from next week after being trialled by Tarmac partner hauliers in London and the South East last year. Tarmac is removing the “turn-up” payment of around £180 per truck, whilst add-on payments, such as waiting time and transfer payments - previously paid separately - will be included in a nightly payment of "at least" £300 for rigids and £325 for moving-floor vehicles.
In a letter to its hauliers, seen by motortransport.co.uk, Tarmac said it is expecting the government to boost infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy. “As a result, work volumes are scheduled to increase and this should increase night volumes and the earnings of night trucks.” It added that since the work will be more “consistent”, Tarmac was removing the turn-up payment and rolling all add-on payments into the £300/£325 flat fee, with all hauliers guaranteed “at least” the £300/£325 payment per night. The letter concludes: “We hope you will see the long-term benefits of this as we believe this will be better all round for yourselves.”
Tarmac partner hauliers reacted angrily to the new payment scheme this week and questioned Tarmac’s decision to introduce the new rates in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. One told us: “It is an absolute disgrace. There is no logic in it and to do it when we are already on our knees, with most of our trucks parked up, is unbelievable.” He added: “If Tarmac is getting more work from the government why not share the benefits with us? This will be the last straw for some firms.”
Another partner haulier said: “These new rates are just not economical - for five night’s work I’ll get £1,500 per truck, compared to £2,000 for four nights work under the old system. There’s no way I can pay a driver to work an eight-hour shift on those terms and cover my costs. “I’m getting a price for my trucks today. With the virus and now this it’s just not worth going on.” He added: “At least I own my trucks. There’s a lot that use Tarmac finance – what choice do they have?”
Tarmac defended the strategy this week, insisting the roll out is “unrelated to the COVID-19 response". A spokeswoman added: “Following a successful trial in London last year we are rolling out our Night Top-Up Scheme more widely to support our haulier community across the UK by providing a sustainable earned income level per night. “We believe this new scheme creates the best opportunity for a ‘win-win’ approach where hauliers are supported with the certainty of nightly earnings and vehicles are utilised as efficiently as possible.”