To give you a flavour of the issues we face, we run into Calais and regularly face what seem like gangs of marauding young guys trying anything to get on our trucks. They damage them, smash our mirrors so we can’t see our trailers, slash curtains and break locks to get in. They then threaten us with violence and seemingly get away with it. It’s getting worse and worse and I personally have had rocks and bricks thrown at me and been threatened because they cannot get in my secure truck. I have had guys run the fingers across their throats whilst looking at me because they cannot get in. I’m a 17 stone ex 2nd row forward who is still fit and also box so not much spooks me but this situation does. We are powerless and defenseless against these attacks because we dare not get out of our trucks to protect them and no-one will help. If the migrants do manage to get in to our trucks, we face huge fines of £2,000 per migrant. Just recently, a pal of mine found 2 migrants in his trailer in Dover. They got in through the roof despite his best security efforts. This has cost him and his company £4,000 in fines, £800 trailer repairs and a load written off because the migrants urinated and defecated in the trailer. His insurance premium will now go up markedly as well. The 2 guys were taken away and are probably sitting in a bedsit somewhere happy to be here whist my mate picks up the tab. I think you will agree this is wrong. If migrants are found in a trailer, the load is generally written off especially if it is for the food industry or clothing. The mess these migrants leave has to be seen to be believed but why should they care? They know that they won’t be charged with criminal damage and can just walk away.
The recent case of Rob Lawrie and the child he tried to smuggle into the UK just made things worse. OK, I understand his compassion here, but they also found 2 migrants in his vehicle. If that had been a truck, we would have had up to £6,000 in fines if we had crossed the channel. He was caught with 3 people in the back of his van. Can you imagine how we feel when we get hammered, in identical circumstances?
The majority of migrants we see attacking, and I use the word attacking deliberately, our trucks are not Syrian. They are mostly of African descent and as far as I’m aware not fleeing barrel bombs and IS. They seem to be economic migrants who have no rights to just wander about Europe picking and choosing where they want to live. It just doesn’t work like that and they are using the Syrian and Iraqi situation to their advantage. They are very, very aggressive and seemingly not bothered about the dangers of breaking into trucks or being caught by the police. The situation has got the the point where a driver will be killed by a brick, hammer or scaffold tube through his screen. All the time when this happens, the police sit back and watch and nothing happens. You have seen the pictures and videos on social media so know it’s true and it is happening on a daily basis.
Most of us have the utmost sympathy for the Syrians refugees and would gladly do all we could to help them but these aggressive and fearless economic migrants are watering down any compassion we have for the genuine refugees. From figures I have read, up to 70% are economic so therefore illegal immigrants. I see the jungle from my vantage point and living there must be horrendous and I understand the aid organisations trying to help the genuine refugees.
But, and it’s a big but, all we see is by helping to make the camp permanent, you will attract more and more illegal immigrants to Calais and almost invite them to try and get in our trucks. I know for a fact that some aid workers have stated that this is their aim and they have been seen aiding the migrants. I have questioned a few about it on ferries and I got the normal responses of “you are racist and bigoted and don’t understand”. I have also been told by 2 of the leading aid organisations that I should “change my job” and more bizarrely “it’s only an inconvenience to you”! Really? Why should anyone have to go through what we do regularly? It’s 2016 for goodness sake! I have to bite my tongue and walk away as they won’t give me their address so I can send them the fines and bills for damage to my truck!
I personally rarely do European work now as my family and friends are worried for my safety. The delays at the ports are horrendous when there is an attack on the trucks and there is real physical danger for me and my colleagues. In fact, a good number of us highly experienced and hard working guys have just had enough of the hassle. We are being replaced with underpaid Eastern Europeans who don’t care about their load, their truck or who the hell gets in the back. It’s a bad situation all round. You may be taken aback sometimes by the anger and bitterness some of us truckers use when talking about this situation but we are just utterly frustrated by the lack of understanding and action taken to protect us going about our daily jobs.