These are good times for truck drivers because wherever they go in Europe, they will have jobs. These are bad times for truck drivers, because virtually wherever they go in Europe, conditions are going to be just as bad. “Low salaries, long hours, incentives are being taken away from us, now they also make us unload … but, How are young people going to want to do this?“, bitterly acknowledges Lzaro Prez, 50-year-old carrier that covers the Murcia – United Kingdom route, to THE WORLD. There must be some truth to their complaint when the British are unable to fill the 100,000 vacant positions they have in the sector, a crisis that has paralyzed the country in recent months and that has forced the prime minister to put the military behind the wheel of trucks. “Wherever I go, stop where I stop, they offer me a job,” he acknowledges.
With supermarket shelves suffering sporadic small stockouts, petrol stations collapsing from lack of supply and mass hysteria, and toys, which all seem to be unable to arrive in time for Christmas, the UK is starting to feel the real consequences of leaving the European Union. ‘If you voted for Brexit, get to the end of the line’, it was read in some gas stations this week, and that is, despite the fact that the Government tries day after day to ‘shelve’ the situation so that it is not linked to the divorce with Brussels, the truth is that yesterday afternoon the service stations continued to register an uncontrolled demand.
Lzaro, who was one of those who got stuck during Christmas trying to cross the English Channel, continues to cover the route week after week. What at first was chaos, because administratively the system to cross the border had not been well designed, now, yes, it solves it in “an hour, more or less.” The controls to declare the goods are done remotely, and he, like ‘paperwork’, only has to present a QR code. “I’ve been to Scotland, Liverpool, London, Kent … everywhere. I bring them strawberries, oranges, vegetables … whatever is seasonal,” he explains.
“Drivers tell us that they no longer want to cover the route to the United Kingdom, that they prefer to do other routes. Crisis like the one that the British are experiencing is suffered by those countries that have not known how to value this profession and that have occupied jobs with people needy from peripheral countries, people who have now lost interest “, he assures this newspaper Francisco Rego, Secretary General of the Road Transport and Logistics Commission of Workers’ Commissions.
In the United Kingdom, where there are currently two million unfilled job offers in all sectors of the economy, they are trying to combine the needs of a buoyant labor market with an immigration policy that is one of the most restrictive in Europe. “It used to happen to me from time to time, but it is that, during the last two months, wherever I go, stop at the warehouse that stops, they offer me a job. And I don’t talk a lot with the people there, because I go , I download and that’s it, and more now with the Covid that I am trying to take care of myself a lot, but it happens the same, “he says after 30 years covering the British route, a country that is already starting to offer more than 55,000 euros per year to new carriers. “They are not going to solve this crisis soon, come on, because there is a lack of drivers there and there are a lack of drivers throughout Europe, and every day they will be missing more if the working conditions do not change.”
Furthermore, he has not been convinced by the Boris Johnson, who has offered 5,000 temporary visas between now and December 24 so that foreign carriers can go to work in the UK. “For what, for three months? As much as they pay me, I know, a thousand euros more a month, then what do I do. My boss in Spain will not forgive me if I let him down now,” he says.
A proposal that has not convinced the sector either, where they insist, both in the European and Spanish unions, that the only solution is to recover the labor rights that have been lost in recent years. “There is no lack of drivers, there is a lack of conditions, because the work offered is precarious and poorly paid compared to the hours of work that are requested and the conditions in which it is carried out,” they point out from CCOO.
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