Thousands of visas for truck drivers: London wants to save Christmas

London (dpa) – After dramatic images of queues at gas stations, the British government has thrown its rigid stance overboard and is now hoping for a rescue by foreign specialists.

Like the Ministry of Transport on Sunday announced in London that up to 5000 work visas will be made available for truck drivers, and 5500 skilled workers for poultry processing are to be attracted. The goal: Prime Minister Boris Johnson still wants to save Christmas.

«After very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us “Said Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps. On Friday he refused to bring foreign specialists into the country.

The shelves in supermarkets remain empty

The situation is dramatic. Because truck drivers are absent everywhere – the industry association Road Haulage Association (RHA) names up to 100. 000 – food shelves remained in supermarkets empty, there were also a lot of other goods temporarily not available, from mattresses to certain types of beer. But it wasn’t until it became known that energy companies could no longer supply dozens of gas stations that the government intervened. One reason for the blatant bottleneck is the stricter immigration rules since Brexit, EU citizens now need expensive work visas.

Representatives of 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. “It’s like putting out a campfire with a thimble of water,” said British Chamber of Commerce President Ruby McGregor-Smith. The industry association CBI criticized the government’s attitude towards focusing on training. “You can’t turn baggage handlers into butchers or shopkeepers into cooks overnight,” CBI boss Tony Danker told the BBC represent. Minister Shapps refused to acknowledge Brexit as the cause of the hardship and instead accused the RHA of having stoked panic with punctured information from non-public meetings. The association rejected this indignantly.

Army driving instructors on duty

A package of measures and the military are now supposed to help. It is planned, for example, that driving instructors from the army will help to deal with the enormous backlog of driving tests that has also arisen as a result of the corona pandemic. Shapps did not rule out that soldiers could even step in as drivers. In addition, former truck drivers should be convinced to return to work, the government promises higher wages and better working conditions. Overall, 50. 000 additional driving tests per year should be possible.

At the same time, the government tried to do the To calm the population. There was enough fuel, said Minister Shapps. People should behave sensibly. His cabinet colleague Nadine Dorries tweeted: “There is no shortage of fuel. I repeat: THERE IS NO LACK OF FUEL !! »

One of the promises made by Brexit was to end free movement. Now the foreigners should help. However, the RHA doubts whether the hoped-for specialists will come at all. Time is short and it is questionable whether drivers, who are also desperately needed in the EU, embarked on a time-limited adventure, said RHA manager Rod McKenzie of the PA news agency.

Christmas party on the brink?

Other industries also assume that the Christmas business is on the brink. This is also due to an energy crisis with a sharp rise in gas prices, which is affecting food production, for example. In addition, Christmas tree producers warned the broadcaster Sky News of a drastic price increase. It is questionable whether anyone who wants can put up a real Christmas tree.

The traditional feast is even more endangered. There will be no more turkeys before Christmas, said the head of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association, Kate Martin. In contrast to Minister Shapps, she is convinced that Brexit is to blame for the delivery problems. Smaller producers used local labor. For the large providers, however, “to 100 percent” Brexit is the cause of the labor shortage.

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