Drivers using the Severn bridges (M4 & M48) are being warned by unions that they could face severe disruption from next week as toll booth workers threaten to go on strike in a dispute over shift patterns.
The importance of the crossings which form part of the Trans European Network cannot be understated keeping businesses in Wales and the South of England in touch with markets in the rest of the UK and Europe.
Strike action including a 24 hour walk out, an overtime ban and work-to-rule is being threatened next Friday 24th August, the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Freight Transport Association (FTA) considers any possible congestion at the crossing as a result of the strike action to be unacceptable, with the only acceptable solution to ease any potential hold-ups to be lifting the toll’s during the proposed industrial action.
Ian Gallagher, FTA Policy Manager, Southwest & Wales said:
"The Concessionaire must not adopt a piece meal response to any strike action by limiting the number of booths.
"Strike action can only result in one response by the concessionaire that of opening the gates allowing free flow traffic," concluded Gallagher.
Concern regarding drivers’ hours because of the possible strike has also been raised by FTA members, including Owens Road Services based in Llanelli, South Wales which has around 50 lorries’ crossing the Severn bridges every day.
Ian Jarman, Owens Environmental & Legislation Manager stated: "We would see massive delays at the already busy Severn bridges, which would mount up into the drivers’ hours that they have to work to. If the dispute goes ahead and does cause the expected disruption, it could well mean us having to head up the M4 to recover vehicles because drivers have run out of time."