A Day in the Life

....of a MGW haulage trucker!

Tuesday 1st February 2023  BBC Radio 5 Live at 12.15 pm - Part Three

Our managing director was invited to appear on BBC Radio 5 Live recently to be interviewed about the impact on our company caused by Brexit. Naga Munchetty

Host Naga Munchetty had on her lunchtime show the topic of Brexit 3 years on and with the BBC reporter Peter Ruddick travelling around the country to interview real life business owners such as our transport manager (and MD Graham Welsh).

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick led into the interview by introducing our intrepid MD with a "We are in Sunderland today  at a salubrious location just outside the city centre and in a lovely yard part of MGW haulage with Graham transport manager here. Graham, when we talk about Brexit and impact, the haulage industry comes up quite clearly. Talk to us about the business challenges that you have to deal with because of Brexit?"

Graham Welsh : 

"We want to invest in the company, but we found it really hard at the moment. Simply because of Brexit. We feel if we had a green button I would press it tomorrow and go back four years and I voted for it, And I wouldn't vote. We feel that we can't move forward.  Customs legislation is absolutely crippling us in time, not money. The customer picks up  the cost of that, but lost time, if the truck is not moving we are not earning. That's where  we are finding it hard work. We've got a contract with Nissan, for a  supplier for Nissan. And currently right now we have to give some of it back because we can't do it. Because we're an importing country not exporting, and we find it really hard to get loads going out. And it's really impacted on us."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick

"Obviously today's three years on and clearly the checks have came in and you know, various industries have had time to get used to them in that time, have things eased in that three years for you as a business?"

Graham Welsh :  Graham Welsh

"They have. But you have got the strikes are not helping the border forces striking, that impacts on the haulage industry the French constantly at the drop of a hat they go on strike. That impacts everybody in the haulage industry. But no, I think things have slowed down and it's a bit simpler.It just takes one cog not to turn and the whole thing just falls apart."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick

"For the audience listening. Give us an example. You were telling me about a truck that you've got in Bordeaux right? What's going on with that?"

Graham Welsh : 

"We bring what is manufactured in Bordeaux and we bring it back to Washington. But he's there now and waiting for the paperwork. The customer generates the paperwork sends it to their agent, then the agent does their bit , and then sends it to the UK agent, and then we get the paperwork, we create a MRN number for him to come across from France. But it just takes forever. The trucker got there yesterday and he's still sat there waiting for his paperwork.  This could be a 10 minute job or 10 hours."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick

"And before Brexit he'd be on his way?"

Graham Welsh : 

"Before Brexit, easy. One piece of paperwork. But this has gone. It was free borders. But that's gone, it was so simple."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick

"You mentioned in your first answer that  you, you personally forgetting the business you voted for Brexit didn't you?".

Graham Welsh : 

"Yes I voted for Brexit for two reasons. Personally, Boris running round in his big red bus, and immigration but I think we were mis-sold it.  If we could go back (in time) I would have voted to stop in Europe for selfish reasons. For the border crossing and the immigration is just worse. Every week we get immigrant immigrants in the trailers, costing us a lot of money. We face massive fines as a company. We've got one sat on the table now off last week. Border force want to fine us for that. We get no help."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick

"The trailer in front of us now is damaged, actually?"

Graham Welsh : 

"Yeah. Yeah. That's off the road because because of the immigrants climbing on the top, they cut the roofs and they drop in. We have got the driver's welfare to consider as well as costs."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick :

"We know that haulage has obviously got a whole list of issues, not just Brexit, but fuel prices, staffing prices etc. Where does Brexit sit on the list for you then?"

Graham Welsh :

 "Right down the bottom to be honest".

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick :

"But still a really important issue?".

Graham Welsh : 

"Yes, it's still an important issue because of the customs. Brexit to me, I don't really think about it anymore. It's a pain we have  got to live with now."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick :

"And finally on the cost of living, because clearly that's the background to everything we're talking about at the moment. And fuel prices, is there anything you think the government could do come the budget in March that could help the haulage industry?"

Graham Welsh : 

"We are only a small family firm. We've only got six trucks. We want to invest in more, but we can't because the fuel prices (that are) 50% of our income goes straight on fuel. We've got the drivers wages. They are our  two major costs every week. Drivers are wanting more, the cost of living is going up so they are asking for more. We would love to give them £1000 a week but we can't because of the fuel prices. We are filling up in the UK now because it's so expensive in France. Historically, you could fill up in France and bring it back here. But we can't no more."

BBC reporter Peter Ruddick :

"Great. Thank you very much for your time for the coffee as well! It's needed in the cold here." I think it's really important and really interesting what Graham and John were saying, you know, Brexit is clearly having a massive impact. It's one of the various issues they're having to deal with at the moment. And look, it's still early days as well. A lot of people, I was talking to you and John Elliott that you heard are kind of, you know, really keen to see that the political implementation now changes so that some of the benefits they think will come from leaving the EU are started to be delivered."

Monday 24th January 2022 - Part Two

Below is shocking report of what our drivers have to contend with on a regular basis... Photo showing damage to door of artic in Belgium, illegal imigrants

A Day In The Life of a Trucker Part 2

Please be aware our driver was parked on the A42 A16 in Belgium between junction 29 and 30 he woke up at 01.00 am and heard a noise when he opened his curtains some guys had a set of ladders up against his trailer which is a fridge he looked in the mirror to see his back doors swinging open and he had a set of handcuffs on which are heavy duty.

He went outside and the two with the ladders ran away he found some guys in the back hiding and they refused to get out and they had dismantled the doors to get the handcuffs off to get into the trailer, when they refused to get out I told him to secure the door with cable ties and go to Calais and let the police sort them out.

When he got into the port the police eventually turned up and put some ladders up and made our driver climb up and get them out while they watched, he found three guys in, he was able to put the bolts back into the door and then board, lucky we only had ambience on and not chilled or frozen, is nowhere safe now 2.5hrs away from the port

Click here to see the rest of the photos showing damage to our vehicle.

Tuesday 19th January 2021 - Part One

Are you struggling to find a haulier willing to take on continental work? We can help Click Here. Perhaps you are unaware of the problems UK truckers face now with the triple whammy of Brexit, Covid and good old bad weather. We spoke to our transport manager, Graham Welsh, on a recent trip to Lyon in France to get it from the 'horses mouth' as to how life is like post Brexit in the day of a trucker.

Graham told us about a major manufacturer based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham who had approached him with an offer to work direct. "We can't get hauliers for love nor money" they told our transport manager (who still does the odd continental trip himself).

But customers need to be careful that they use a haulier with correct paperwork. MGW work through an agent to organise all the customs clearance paperwork to ensure a smoother transit across to France.

Do you need help with a load to the continent? Click Here

Passport for Kent and Covid Test

Graham set off on the Wednesday 13th January 2021, made sure he had his Covid test and Kent 'passport' and even though he told customs officers on the way to Dover that he had been 'fast tracked' they refused him access to the channel port initially and diverted him the full forty miles to Manston airfield as part of Operation Brock. Officers were diplomatic but Graham was forthright when he told them "Would you be happy after driving 17 hours?" He had previously drove from the North East down to Rotherham in South Yorkshire, back up to the North East then down to Kent. DOUANE French customs police

Graham believes however once people get used to the new procedures things will get better. He told us about the 'DOUANE' in France who are customs police and still drive around in a system of open borders, who had previously only stopped him once in ten years. He got stopped by them twice in one week in the first week after Brexit.

"There's nothing you can do about it" he shrugged. We spoke about the lighter side of life on the road and a Youtube video posted by comedian Jim Davidson of an incident recently whereby Dutch police had stopped a British trucker for simply havng a ham sandwich in his bait box!

Is it Brext or Covid? Or both? We asked the inteprid haulier who refuses to let these obstacles get in his way. "Both." He exclaimed.

"But, it would be easier if it wasn't for Covid and we wouldn't have to stop for all these tests. What I do is pull in to the likes of Wetherby (a couple of hundred miles up the road from Dover) and get my test there, that way if I've got symptoms at least it saves me driving all the way down. Plus I'm not wasting diesel."

Graham told us about the all of the new forms such as T1 (international clearance) form, the Kent "passport" KAP, clearing customs (twice) and a Euro 1 form. When you get on to the ferry dashboards display every trucks registration plate. Drivers look at the traffic light colour coded system to see how they stand. If there is a green light next to their registration number they are cleared for customs on the other side. If it displays orange they have to brace themselves for a wait and clear French customs.

Graham spoke highly of the French customs who were "lovely" in his words, which may come as a surprise to many. But he told us that that wait was only about half an hour. But still a long way removed from the days prior to Brext of just been able to drive straight through.

"So it definitely a lot harder". His trip started at Rotherham then back up to Newton Aycliffe and back down the country to Dover. Stopping at Leicester Forest East service station for his Covid test (see photo right). A negative test meant he was fast tracked to go quicker through customs. Ultimately the load was heading for Lyon in France. But going down the M20 motorway, Operation Brock was in full swing and that led to the detour, 40 to 50 miles out of his way. Another Covid test at Manston, then on to Dover and further delays. On to the ferry then the new traffic light style system that led to further delays at the French side in Calais. However Graham did point out again that the French customs did make this a lot easier than could have been the case.

Graham estimated that a normal 2 to 3 and a half day round trip took at least an extra day all told.

The MGW Haulage pride of the fleet brand new Volvo then made it's way to Lyon in France where our driver awoke to snow!

On the way back we caught up with Graham as he drove around the "rammed" truck park at Wetherby Services in Yorkshire as he looked for a place to park to get yet another Covid test.

For all this was another successful trip by MGW Halauge our driver did acknowledge that many drivers and companies are apprehensive of taking on this type of work.

And as such we here at MGW understand there may be potential opportunites to assist UK based businesses who may need to enlist the help of hauliers (like ourselves) who are overcoming these new obstacles to ensure a smooth flow of their continental supply chain.

Do you need help with a load to the continent?Click Here

'Squaddies' from the British Army, overseeing Covid testing at Leicester Forest East service Covid Testing Stationstation (see photo right).