Tesco and Aldi have hiked the wages they pay to lorry drivers in a bid to overcome the HGV driver shortage and keep shelves stocked.

Britain’s biggest grocer is offering drivers a £1,000 signing-on bonus if they can start working before the end of September. Tesco’s Booker wholesale arm has given drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot a temporary £5-an-hour pay rise, according to the Unite union.

The Sunday Times reported that Aldi has also increased wages for its lorry drivers, pushing through an increase in order to maintain its position as the highest payer in the grocery sector.

Supermarket operators are battling to get food on shelves amid the falling number of lorry drivers in the UK. Brexit had already caused a drop in the number of EU drivers working in Britain before the coronavirus pandemic hit, which caused further problems as a result of staff absences and an exodus of European citizens back to their home countries.

The so-called ‘pingdemic’ has created further strain with a growing number of drivers being contacted via the Test and Trace app and told to self-isolate.

Dairy giant Arla, a key supplier to British supermarkets, warned last month that the shortage had forced it to cancel 600 deliveries in a day.

The Road Haulage Association, which told Retail Week in June that it had lost around 90,000 drivers as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis, warned that the food supply chain was “creaking as never before”.

It urged the government to allow foreign drivers to work in the UK on short-term visas to help ease the problem.

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