UK government plans to ease visa rules amid truck driver shortage

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In a twist, the British government is expected to relax visa rules for truck drivers to help fix supply chain problems that have led to long lines at gas stations and some shuttered pumps.

The government said late Friday that it was “seeking temporary measures to avoid immediate problems.” He said that any action he took would be “strictly limited in time.”

The transport industry says the UK is short of tens of thousands of truckers, due to a perfect storm of factors including the coronavirus pandemic, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s departure from the United Kingdom. European Union.

Post-Brexit immigration rules mean that EU citizens can no longer live and work visa-free in Britain, as they could when the UK was a member of the trade bloc. Trucking companies have been urging the Conservative government to loosen immigration rules so drivers can be more easily recruited across Europe.

Britain’s agricultural and food processing industries, lacking fruit pickers and meat packers, have made similar requests.

The government has resisted, saying that British workers should be trained to take on the jobs. He has emphasized that Britain is not short of fuel, but that hasn’t stopped motorists from lining up at gas stations to refuel just in case.

Sporadic supply chains in supermarkets and other stores that began several weeks ago were also attributed to a lack of delivery drivers.

Not enough truckers

BP and Esso closed some of their stations in Britain this week because there were not enough truckers to bring gasoline to the pumps. EG Group, which operates around 400 service stations in the UK, said it was limiting purchases to £ 30 ($ 41).

In a statement, the government said Britain had “ample fuel reserves.”

“But like countries around the world, we are experiencing a temporary COVID-related shortage of the drivers needed to move supplies across the country,” he said, without acknowledging Brexit as a factor.

The head of the Confederation of British Industry, Tony Danker, said the driver shortage was in part “a hangover from Brexit.”

“We had several drivers who went home and we would not have wanted to go home, and I think there is a bigger issue of the immigration system, and it is a complicated one,” he told the BBC.

Danker said easing visa rules would be “a great relief.”

“It’s a shame the government needed queues at the pumps to get around, but I hope they did, and it will help,” he said.

(AP)