Tagged: news

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Hauliers warn of ‘acute shortage of drivers’

A CO Armagh firm has warned that an “acute shortage” of HGV lorry drivers in Northern Ireland will ultimately lead to consumers having to pay more in the shops for their goods.

Morgan McLernon says it is finding it “virtually impossible” to recruit the dozens of staff it needs.

Like many other haulier businesses across the north, it fears it may soon have to turn business away due to a lack of drivers.

And despite having organised its own driver academy to provide training to candidates wishing to enter the transport industry, the company claims politicians need to do more to help remove barriers which are preventing the industry from growing.

Stephen McAneney from Morgan McLernon, a road haulage company based at Silverwood in Lurgan specialising in chilled and frozen distribution across Ireland, Britain and Europe, says he needs to add 40 drivers to the firm’s current 250-strong crew – but can’t fill the posts, despite drivers potentially clearing £500 a week.

“The Road Haulage Association says it is short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year, and the industry isn’t attracting younger people into HGV driving,” he said.

This is due to the high costs of gaining an licence (up to £5,000 a driver) and companies, especially small firms, being reluctant to take drivers with less than 12 months’ commercial driving experience because of the additional insurance costs that apply to these and younger drivers.

“This isn’t a problem unique to us. Virtually every haulier has a similar story to tell,” he added.

“In simple terms, if hauliers haven’t got the drivers to move produce, there will be less on the supermarket shelves, and in turn that will lead to prices going up.

He added: “What we need right now is some sort of apprenticeship scheme which gives a new generation of young drivers, those aged from 17 to 25, the opportunity to forge a career in this sector,” McAneney added.

“But not having a working Stormont isn’t helping, and our trade is suffering as a result.”

The industry is also failing to attract or retain foreign nationals as drivers, given the complexities and fears around Brexit and the relative weakness of the UK’s economy.

Indeed one Northern Ireland firm told the Irish News: “Last year we employed 12 Hungarian drivers. They all went home for Christmas, but only four came back. They weighed up all their financial options and felt it was better to stay put.”

Hauliers are also being separately penalised through having to pay an Apprentice Levy, even though is virtually impossible for them to take on apprentices (in the case of Morgan McLernon,it is understood to be in the region of £30,000 a year).

The Road Haulage Association has already presented its case to the transport committee at the House of Commons, and insisted it is important the industry gets beyond the point where it appeals mainly to those with a passion for driving.

In response, the committee said: “We believe there are steps the industry can take to encourage young people, regardless of their background and gender, to work as drivers.

“Haulage is competing with other sectors for young people leaving schools and colleges. Many of the options young people will consider require some additional training, but it is unusual for a sector to require new entrants to fund the acquisition of licences and pay for the additional training.

“The industry needs to work with insurers to find ways of reducing the cost of insuring young drivers, but the government has a role to play in facilitating this work.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly told the Irish News: “The severe lack of HGV drivers is posing a serious logistical threat to the industry. There are businesses in my constituency which have vacancies for scores of drivers. That level of deficit is incredible and it is influenced in no small way by the threat of Brexit on the industry.

“In the absence of functioning institutions, it’s difficult to advance solutions but I’ve written to the Southern Regional College and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to explore if Neighbourhood Renewal or another funding stream could be used to provide new apprenticeships which can be established to support young people in need of employment while plugging the skills gap in this area.

“It’s incredible frustrating that we have no government to make the urgent interventions required.”

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Hauliers warn of ‘acute shortage of drivers’

A CO Armagh firm has warned that an “acute shortage” of HGV lorry drivers in Northern Ireland will ultimately lead to consumers having to pay more in the shops for their goods.

Morgan McLernon says it is finding it “virtually impossible” to recruit the dozens of staff it needs.

Like many other haulier businesses across the north, it fears it may soon have to turn business away due to a lack of drivers.

And despite having organised its own driver academy to provide training to candidates wishing to enter the transport industry, the company claims politicians need to do more to help remove barriers which are preventing the industry from growing.

Stephen McAneney from Morgan McLernon, a road haulage company based at Silverwood in Lurgan specialising in chilled and frozen distribution across Ireland, Britain and Europe, says he needs to add 40 drivers to the firm’s current 250-strong crew – but can’t fill the posts, despite drivers potentially clearing £500 a week.

“The Road Haulage Association says it is short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year, and the industry isn’t attracting younger people into HGV driving,” he said.

This is due to the high costs of gaining an licence (up to £5,000 a driver) and companies, especially small firms, being reluctant to take drivers with less than 12 months’ commercial driving experience because of the additional insurance costs that apply to these and younger drivers.

“This isn’t a problem unique to us. Virtually every haulier has a similar story to tell,” he added.

“In simple terms, if hauliers haven’t got the drivers to move produce, there will be less on the supermarket shelves, and in turn that will lead to prices going up.

He added: “What we need right now is some sort of apprenticeship scheme which gives a new generation of young drivers, those aged from 17 to 25, the opportunity to forge a career in this sector,” McAneney added.

“But not having a working Stormont isn’t helping, and our trade is suffering as a result.”

The industry is also failing to attract or retain foreign nationals as drivers, given the complexities and fears around Brexit and the relative weakness of the UK’s economy.

Indeed one Northern Ireland firm told the Irish News: “Last year we employed 12 Hungarian drivers. They all went home for Christmas, but only four came back. They weighed up all their financial options and felt it was better to stay put.”

Hauliers are also being separately penalised through having to pay an Apprentice Levy, even though is virtually impossible for them to take on apprentices (in the case of Morgan McLernon,it is understood to be in the region of £30,000 a year).

The Road Haulage Association has already presented its case to the transport committee at the House of Commons, and insisted it is important the industry gets beyond the point where it appeals mainly to those with a passion for driving.

In response, the committee said: “We believe there are steps the industry can take to encourage young people, regardless of their background and gender, to work as drivers.

“Haulage is competing with other sectors for young people leaving schools and colleges. Many of the options young people will consider require some additional training, but it is unusual for a sector to require new entrants to fund the acquisition of licences and pay for the additional training.

“The industry needs to work with insurers to find ways of reducing the cost of insuring young drivers, but the government has a role to play in facilitating this work.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly told the Irish News: “The severe lack of HGV drivers is posing a serious logistical threat to the industry. There are businesses in my constituency which have vacancies for scores of drivers. That level of deficit is incredible and it is influenced in no small way by the threat of Brexit on the industry.

“In the absence of functioning institutions, it’s difficult to advance solutions but I’ve written to the Southern Regional College and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to explore if Neighbourhood Renewal or another funding stream could be used to provide new apprenticeships which can be established to support young people in need of employment while plugging the skills gap in this area.

“It’s incredible frustrating that we have no government to make the urgent interventions required.”

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Truck Driver Is Charged in Deaths of 10 Migrants in Texas

They banged on the trailer’s walls, to get the driver’s attention, but the truck did not stop. The driver later told federal investigators what the immigrants may have soon discovered: that the trailer’s cooling system did not work and its four vent holes were probably clogged. But the immigrants found a small vent hole that was open, and took turns breathing through it to get some air.

The driver finally put the brakes on, and the immigrants were so weak that they fell over. The door opened again, this time in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart early Sunday, revealing a horrific scene of bodies upon bodies.

Ten people died along the journey or later at hospitals. Nearly 30 others were hospitalized.

The descriptions of the immigrants’ journey, as told to federal investigators, were revealed in a criminal complaint as the driver of the truck was arraigned in federal court Monday in San Antonio. The driver, James M. Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., was charged under a federal law[1] against knowingly transporting people who are in the country illegally — a law that provides for an unlimited prison term or capital punishment, if the crime results in a death.

Even as President Trump has made clear he will not tolerate illegal immigration, the tragedy illustrated the extremes people will go to to sneak into the United States and opened a window into human smuggling at the border, a clandestine world of drug cartels, rafts, “stash houses” and empty promises.

It quickly became a political issue in Texas. The Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who has long denounced illegal immigration, took to social media to link the case with the state’s new and highly controversial law banning sanctuary cities — those that do not cooperate with immigration agencies.

“Sanctuary cities entice people to believe they can come to America and Texas and live outside the law,” Mr. Patrick wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “Sanctuary cities also enable human smugglers and cartels. Today, these people paid a terrible price and demonstrate why we need a secure border and legal immigration reform.”

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, a Democrat, said Mr. Patrick’s comments went “too far.”

Mr. Rodriguez said in a statement that when “10 people from any background perish under such horrific circumstances, it is an occasion deserving of solemnity and respect, not self-indulgent cheerleading.”

Much was still unanswered Monday, including exactly how many people had been in the truck, and how they managed to get to San Antonio undetected, since it was likely that the driver passed through a Border Patrol traffic checkpoint at some point after leaving Laredo.

Survivors who were interviewed by investigators said they had been loaded into the trailer from various locations in or near Laredo. Many of the details in the criminal complaint came from an immigrant who was hospitalized and who was referred to by the initials J.M.M.-J.

He was from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and with a group of 28 others had crossed the Rio Grande by raft in three trips. In addition to $5,500 he would owe his smugglers when he got to his final destination in San Antonio, people with ties to the Mexican criminal organization known as the Zetas cartel were paid in pesos for protection and for the raft crossing.

The Mexican man and the others in his group then hiked through the South Texas brush until the next day, when they were picked up by a vehicle and driven to the trailer. Another immigrant described waiting in a stash house in Laredo for 11 days with 23 other people before being loaded into the trailer.

A third survivor, who was identified in the complaint by the initials H.L.-C. and was headed to Minnesota, told investigators that he and his brother crossed through in Laredo. “He stated he thought there were approximately 180 to 200 people in the tractor-trailer when he got in,” the complaint read.

By the time the police came to the truck Sunday morning, alerted by a Walmart employee, a number of immigrants had already fled, either in vehicles that picked them up before the police arrived, or on foot.

The bodies of the 10 dead, all adult men, have been taken to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is working with other agencies to determine their identities, a spokeswoman said. Officials with the Mexican Consulate are also assisting. The bodies will be returned to their families once their identities are established, a process involving fingerprint and DNA checks and other forensic tools that could take considerable time.

One was a Guatemalan man who had previously lived in the United States as a so-called Dreamer, one of the young immigrants protected from deportation by an Obama administration policy. But the man had lost his protection because of a conviction for larceny and aggravated assault, said Silvia Mintz, a lawyer working for the Guatemalan Consulate in Houston.

How the survivors’ immigration status will be handled in the coming weeks remained unclear. All were in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration lawyers said they should be regarded as crime victims, and as witnesses to a crime, which in some cases can protect them from deportation.

“We are exploring every avenue, and hopefully we can get them some immigration relief,” Ms. Mintz said.

On Monday morning, the driver, Mr. Bradley, made a brief appearance in Federal District Court, answering, “Yes, I do,” when Judge Betsy Chestney asked if he understood the maximum penalties. It was unclear whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty, which is infrequently used in federal court.

Mr. Bradley told federal authorities that he was unaware of his human cargo. According to court documents, Mr. Bradley said when he stopped at Walmart to urinate, he heard movement in the trailer and opened it.

He said he was knocked down by fleeing immigrants and said “he then noticed bodies just lying on the floor like meat,” according to the criminal complaint.

Mr. Bradley said he tried to administer aid, but he did not call 911.

Mr. Bradley’s remarks to investigators raised a host of questions, including why he ended up in San Antonio at all. He told investigators that his ultimate destination was Brownsville, where he was supposed to deliver the trailer to its new owner. Mr. Bradley told investigators, however, that he was not given a delivery address in Brownsville. In addition, if the truck was in Laredo and bound for Brownsville, San Antonio is in the opposite direction.

Court records from Colorado and Florida appear to show a criminal history for Mr. Bradley. Those records belong to a James Bradley with the middle initial B., rather than M., of the same age and general physical appearance.

In 1996, James B. Bradley was arrested by Aurora, Colo., police and charged with menacing with a deadly weapon and assault. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to a single felony charge and was sentenced to two years’ probation, but records show that the probation was revoked multiple times, returning him to jail. In 2004, he was arrested in Tampa, Fla., while driving a car that had been reported stolen, and charged with grand theft auto. State records do not make clear how the case was resolved.

Mr. Bradley’s nephew, Alton C. Bradley, 50, said he was shocked by the news of his uncle’s arrest.

“When I was talking with my aunts and sister, we couldn’t believe it was him pulling those immigrants behind in that trailer,” he said by telephone from Land O’ Lakes, Fla., adding that his uncle was always hauling produce, meat, seafood and more all over the country.

“Just regular stuff that you haul from state to state, but nothing that was ever illegal,” he said. “So that’s why this is pretty shocking.”

Correction: July 24, 2017

An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect description for the sentence for Tyrone Williams, a truck driver who was convicted in the deaths of 19 people in 2003. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but in 2010, a federal appellate court overturned his 19 life sentences. He was resentenced to 34 years in prison.

Continue reading the main story[5]

References

  1. ^ a federal law (www.justice.gov)
  2. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)