I was coming out of a local shopping mall recently and saw a poster encouraging people to come and work for a well known parcel distribution company. Having experienced some shortages at the supermarket, though nothing significant, I am aware that attracting and retaining drivers is a hot button issue.
I took note of the advert which promised you could earn up to £39k a year or £15.50 an hour. As a headline number that didn’t sound bad but there was something about the numbers that intrigued me. Calculator in hand I walked back to my car. £39k divided by 52 gives a still reasonable £750 per week, yet when you divide this by £15.50 it means that the drivers have to work more than 48 hours per week to earn this amount.
My calculations may be naive and there may well be bonuses on top but this shows how hard some of these delivery drivers have to work to earn their wages. The news has been filled with stories of tight targets, the lack of breaks and unrealistic route expectations and I guess this negative press is contributing to a general shortage of drivers. Perhaps this is why the particular company has had to take out an advert in a shopping centre.
What these last few years have shown us is that there are many people we rely upon to support the way we live. Many of these are undervalued, or rather underpaid. The current driver shortage is a great opportunity to redress some of this imbalance, though it may well take many years before high wages and better conditions solve the problem.
We need to do more though and take the opportunity to address the wide imbalance in earnings across the country. If work is rewarding and of value then people will want to pick it up and labour shortages should become less of a problem. This means, however, that we all need to be prepared to pay more to get the services we expect. The constant drive to lower costs is incompatible with the issues we are currently facing.
Earn more by paying more.