British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday (26/9) accused land transport groups of creating a “engineered situation” and insisted on ensuring there was no fuel shortage in Britain.
The statement was made by Shapps when a number of motorists were frustrated because they were stuck in traffic jams because a third of vehicles kept queuing to get fuel.
Shapps told UK broadcaster Sky News that “there is a lot of fuel” in the UK and he urged drivers to only refuel “if they need to.”
The freight industry says Britain is short of tens of thousands of truck drivers due to a variety of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic, an aging workforce and the exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Post-Brexit immigration rules mean that EU citizens will no longer be able to live and work without a visa in the UK, as they used to do when Britain was a member of the trading bloc.
Trucking companies have been urging the UK government to relax immigration rules to make it easier to recruit drivers from across Europe.
The UK government has said it will issue 5,000 three-month visas to all truck drivers starting this October and another 5,500 to poultry workers.
But it remains the insistence of all that in the long term, British workers must be trained to be willing to work as drivers, and that transport companies are willing to restore working conditions and increase wages to retain these workers. [em/jm]