Lack of 100,000 truck drivers
Retailers warn of bottlenecks. To combat the driver shortage, the British government now wants to do “whatever it takes”. Because there are only ten days left to save the Christmas business. .
Denn es bleiben nur zehn Tage, um das Weihnachtsgeschäft zu retten.
by Dirk Mewis
The British Retail Federation warns of empty shelves at Christmas: Truck drivers are the glue that holds supply chains together, explains Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium. The shortage of drivers makes it impossible to get goods from producers to shops on time. “If we don’t find new drivers in the next ten days, we’re going to see significant dislocation in the spurt to Christmas.”
Many supermarket shelves remain empty, with the industry body warning of a supply shortage. Now motorists in Britain are also feeling the shortage of lorry drivers: the energy company BP is now having to close some filling stations. There is still fuel, but it is not getting to where it is needed. Now the British government promises increased efforts to fight the driver shortage.
At the end of September, BP had said some of its 1,200 British petrol stations would have to close because the driver shortage was preventing the transport of petrol and diesel.
At petrol stations in London and in Kent, queues formed in front of the pumps because motorists feared shortages. It is estimated that the British transport industry is currently short of around 100,000 drivers. This is mainly due to the fact that about 25,000 truckers have returned to the European continent after Brexit and that the corona pandemic is hampering the training of new drivers.
As ITV reported, BP informed the government about the problems days ago. The situation was “bad, very bad”, BP manager Hanna Hofer said at a meeting with government representatives. Hofer had explained that the company only had two-thirds of the tank storage inventory “required for smooth operations” – and that this figure was declining “very quickly”. Therefore, the company was preparing to cut supplies “very soon”.
Driver shortage: search for international drivers
“We will do whatever it takes,” the Transport Minister declared. In doing so, Grant Shapps made use of the phrase “whatever it takes”, made famous in 2012, with which the then head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, had calmed the financial markets in the euro crisis. The goal is for car traffic to continue to run normally, Shapps said. The government is working hard to change laws to make it easier to train new truck drivers, he said. Because of the lockdown in the viral pandemic, 40,000 prospective drivers had not been able to take exams, he said.
Already in August, fast-food chain McDonald’s had to remove milkshakes and certain drinks from the menus of its UK outlets due to supply chain problems. Competitor Nando’s had run out of chicken.
Shapps said there was also a need to make the truck driving profession more attractive. Britain had long benefited from cheap labour, mostly from Eastern Europe. Asked if the government would relax visa requirements for interested truckers from other countries, he said all options were being explored.
Previously, there had been calls to allow short-term visas for such drivers to enter the country due to the shortage of drivers. This, he said, was to fill the gap until sufficient numbers of British truckers were trained. In the short term, international drivers could help, even if it was probably too late to ensure trouble-free logistics for retailers’ Christmas business, an industry representative explained. In the long term, however, higher wages and better working conditions for workers are needed.
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