Boris Johnson puts the military behind the wheel while proposing “short-term” solutions to solve the crisis
A driver refuels his truck in Flamstead St.PETER CZIBORRAREUTERS
Updated on Thursday, 30 September 2021 – 02:10
The Army in the streets, and a new kick forward in the crisis of shortages of the United Kingdom. The government of Boris johnson has chosen, for the moment, to try to cover the deficit of 100,000 carriers that the country has by putting military at the wheel of trucks to ensure that fuel reaches service stations. A ‘patch’ -not a solution- not shared by the sector. “They get out of the way this week, okay, so what? What happens in a month? And in two? Are the military still there? They cannot have the sector as they have it and think that all this is going to be solved without structural changes “, criticizes from Brussels Livia spera, Secretary General of the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), in an interview with EL MUNDO.
His organization, which brings together Europe’s leading transport unions, including the United Kingdom, has long been warning of a problem that, as Johnson says, affects the entire continent, but which, as Johnson does not acknowledge, has been aggravated by Brexit. “This crisis of the carriers, which is the one that has generated the fuel crisis, does not come from nowhere, it has been dragged on for a long time. Things have been complicated with Brexit, now we have to do a lot of paperwork and there are many problems. British market is no longer attractive to us. International drivers are no longer attracted to the UK, “they explain from the ETF.
The difference with countries like Poland, which also has a deficit of more than 130,000 truckers, according to union data, is that the British are no longer part of that common market that the European Union has, and that, given their “elasticity”, it can take on local problems thanks to the whole. That is why Johnson, who has carried one of the more restrictive immigration systems remembered in Europe, he has now been trapped by his own creation.
Although it is trying to spur the sector to recruit those 100,000 new drivers within its borders, the truth is that, without structural changes that make jobs more attractive, it seems difficult to do so in the short term, and crisis shortages like those seen in supermarkets or gas stations could be repeated over the next few months.
“100,000? But how are they going to get 100,000 if they cannot hire practically anyone. The unions there tell us that it is a matter of respect. The working conditions are very harsh, the salary is a pittance and , to give us an idea, most carriers are over 50 years old. How are they going to seduce young people into choosing this job if they do not improve the sector with adequate regulation “, Spera points out in statements for this newspaper.
The double “short-term” solution that the British Prime Minister has given includes, in addition to the 300 soldiers who will join the roads in a couple of days, around 5,500 visas for foreign drivers who want to go to work in the United Kingdom for three months , because exactly on Christmas day they will be asked to be back in their countries of origin. A measure that, in the words of the British Chamber of Commerce, is like “throwing a thimble of water to try to put out a bonfire”.
“But who is going to want to go there? Nobody, or at least that’s what our members tell us. It’s not an attractive place to go to work. Three months and then what, besides in those conditions … “, they lament from the ETF. “They are short-term solutions, and we have to bear in mind that, if there is a lack of drivers across the continent, why go to the UK if it is easier to work elsewhere in the European Union?”
Despite the fact that service stations are finding respite after a week in which they have had to face a 500% more than usual demand, at the moment they have only managed to generate an average of 20% of their capacity reserves. This, which for the Government means that the crisis is beginning to be a thing of the past, may simply be due to the fact that the majority of the population circulates at the moment with a full tank. “We expected that drop in demand, now we are trying to recover during this truce”, pointed out James Spencer, director of Portland Fuel, on BBC.
According to the criteria of
The Trust Project Learn more