London (dpa) – With thousands of work visas for foreign truck drivers, the British government still wants to save Christmas. As the Ministry of Transport in London announced during the night, a total of 10. 500 specialists are to be brought into the country from October until Christmas Eve.
This includes up to 5000 truck drivers and 5500 skilled workers for poultry processing. Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said the waiver should “ensure that preparations for the Christmas season stay on schedule”. Business representatives reacted promptly but skeptically to the announcement.
Brexit made immigration difficult
For weeks, the British economy has been suffering from considerable delivery problems – because the country is missing up to 100. 000 Truck driver. One reason for this is the stricter immigration rules since Brexit. Now there were concerns that food for Christmas dinner and toys as gifts could be scarce. The decisive factor in the U-turn of the government, which until recently had refused visa exemptions for foreigners, was evidently brought about by pictures of long queues at gas stations. Due to delivery problems, energy companies were unable to supply dozens of gas stations with petrol and diesel.
«After very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us is, and that’s why we’re taking these steps as early as possible to ensure that preparations stay on track, “said Transport Minister Shapps.
Business representatives are skeptical
representatives of the The logistics sector and the food industry welcomed the government plans. At the same time, they made it clear that the 10. 500 skilled workers were not enough. The supermarkets alone require at least 15. 000 truck drivers so that the shops work at full capacity before Christmas and disruptions or Avoid delivery problems, said Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium.
The President of the British Chamber of Commerce, Ruby McGregor-Smith, also criticized that the measures were nowhere near enough. “It’s like putting out a campfire with a thimble of water,” she said.
Package of measures should help
On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport emphasized the import of labor do not represent a sustainable solution to the problem. Rather, a package of measures is intended to help.
For example, it is planned that driving instructors for the army will help to deal with the enormous backlog of driving tests that has also resulted from the corona pandemic . In addition, around a million letters are sent to former truck drivers to convince them to return to work. The aim is to advertise with higher wages, fixed working hours and better working conditions. Free retraining is also offered. Overall, 50. 000 additional driving tests per year should be possible.
While business representatives admit that Brexit is one reason for the tense situation, the government rejects any connection. The pandemic has exacerbated the situation, said Minister Shapps. Before that, however, there were already problems in Great Britain. Shapps cited an aging workforce, low wages and poor conditions at truck stops.