A government plea for former lorry drivers to get behind the wheel will not solve a labor shortage that has left supermarket shelves empty and prompted a fuel panic, drivers and unions have warned.
Over the weekend, ministers scrambled to persuade drivers who have left the industry after retailers warned they had “10 days to save Christmas” to avoid empty shelves during the festive season. Stock is required.
Ministers of the Transport Department wrote to one lakh HGV license holders over the weekend asking them to consider returning to the sector. The government also announced a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers. Competition law is also to be suspended to allow fuel companies to coordinate where they send supplies.
The unions questioned whether the petition by HGV license holders would dent the shortage of thousands of lorry drivers who were deemed to be needed. Barkley Sumner, a spokesman for Unite, said it was “sensible” to ask former drivers but would probably only return “a handful” while working conditions in the area remain poor.
Unite said lorry drivers and poultry processing visas were “pushing a broken and exploitative system”. Union accuses poultry processing plants of offering “poverty pay and unsafe contracts” [that] Do not compensate for physically draining and unpleasant work”.
Tomasz Orinski, a lorry driver based in Glasgow, told Granthshala That the visa scheme was “not attractive at all” and the letter became a “laughing stock” among colleagues.
Polish driver Rafal Pakos, who left Britain before Brexit on 1 January, said he believes the plan is “not a good idea”.
“You want drivers to work in the UK,” he said. “Three months is nothing. I can’t even find a place to live in that time.
“The main thing drivers will consider is a good salary,” he said, adding that tax changes that reduce drivers’ take-home pay were a factor in persuading Polish drivers to leave the UK.
GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast said the visa scheme was “like trying to put out a wildfire with a water pistol”.
She continued: “It is no surprise that they are not queuing to return to the country that kicked them out. Changing immigration rules or easing the testing of drivers is the way to solve the HGV shortage.” There is no. Paying drivers what they know they deserve, and dire conditions in the industry are improving.”
European trade union leaders warned EU drivers would be unlikely to back down from an offer of three-month visas. Edwin Artema of the Dutch FNV Union told BBC Radio 4. Today Program: “EU workers we talk to will not go to the UK for short-term visas to the UK, which they have made themselves.
He said the regulation protecting drivers “didn’t deserve the paper it’s written on because there’s no enforcement and no interest to enforce it across the supply chain”.
“Drivers need much more than just visas and payslips. A Marshall Plan is needed for all of Western Europe to pull this entire industry back to the surface where it needs to be.”
Haulage firms have become increasingly desperate to fill roles as companies grapple with a shortage of skilled labor that has left supermarket shelves empty and fueled panic.
Jake Justice, a former driver who turns 90 next month, told Granthshala He was recently contacted by a representative of a recruitment agency who said that there are good opportunities in the industry due to the current shortage.
“I told him that I would hardly be able to get into the cab. I retired 25 years ago,” he added Granthshala.
The recruiter suggested after hearing Mr Justice’s age that he would be able to help him retrain for his license or that he could drive around the yard instead of the road, he said. Other friends who had retired from the industry for a long time were also approached by haulage firms offering work, Mr Justice said.
Other government measures to deal with driver shortages have so far failed. The industry has been fiercely critical of another plan to increase the maximum number of driving hours per day from 10 to 11, as well as to remove some requirements from HGV driving tests. It is feared that the changes could put drivers and other road users at risk.
With ministers negotiating the crisis on Monday aimed at de-escalating the situation, the government is expected to decide whether to prepare military drivers to deliver fuel to the petrol station’s forecourt.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /