Supply crisis continues: Johnson fears empty shelves even at Christmas

The supply crisis continues
Johnson fears empty shelves at Christmas too

The fight of the British government against the supply shortages seems more and more desperate: Criminals, soldiers and Germans with old driver’s licenses are supposed to help out as drivers. On the other hand, Prime Minister Johnson does not want to let cheap workers from the EU into the country in the long term.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dampened hopes for a Christmas free of gas stations and supermarket shelves. He shared Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak’s assessment that the crisis could continue into the holidays, Johnson said in a BBC interview. At the same time, the prime minister admitted that a shortage of truck drivers had been emerging for a long time.

Despite the bottlenecks, Johnson does not want to give in to calls for a relaxation of the tightened immigration rules after Brexit. “What we don’t want is to go back to a situation where the logistics industry relies on a lot of cheap immigration,” said Johnson while visiting a hospital in Leeds. The consequence of this is that “wages do not rise and the quality of jobs does not increase”. The UK economy must end its dependence on poorly paid foreign workers in order to become a “well-paid, well-educated, highly productive economy”.

It is estimated that the UK is currently lacking around 100,000 truck drivers. This has already led to empty shelves in supermarkets. But there is also a significant shortage of workers in other sectors, such as the meat industry. Large numbers of workers from eastern EU countries have emigrated since the British decided to leave the EU. At least in the short term, however, London wants to make use of foreign specialists.

The logistics industry should not rely on immigration

Motorists in the UK are currently struggling to get gasoline or diesel because there are not enough truck drivers who can deliver fuel from the refineries. Long queues form in front of the petrol stations, and many of them are no longer available. The situation is particularly tense in London and the south-east of the country. In Scotland and around the north of England, however, there were signs that the pressure was easing.

Because of the exit from the EU, many truckers also left the country and returned to the European continent. The fuel crisis also threatens to overshadow the ongoing Conservative Party convention in Manchester, where Johnson wanted to focus on post-pandemic economic recovery.

As early as Monday, around 200 British military personnel, including 100 truck drivers, are expected to help distribute fuel. The government had also proposed that convicted criminals be used as drivers. A desperate letter campaign caused astonishment among Germans in the country, in which apparently indiscriminate people with appropriate driver’s licenses were asked to get behind the wheel of a truck – even if they had never done this before. Because class 3 driving licenses, which were issued in Germany up to 1999, also allow driving a truck up to 7.5 tons, according to a report by the Independent, thousands of Germans received corresponding letters.

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