“No, thank you, Mr Johnson! I don’t want to work on the Island. Even for more money,” said a Polish driver who left Britain for Brexit. I will not go there to save their Christmas, he says.
The UK is in dire need of truck drivers. This has seriously affected supplies to grocery stores and petrol stations and caused panic among sections of the population. There are empty shelves in more and more stores, and most of the gas stations in the country no longer have gasoline. Meanwhile, a medical union has warned that due to the lack of fuel at gas stations, doctors will soon not be able to visit their patients, Deutsche Welle writes.
The pandemic and Brexit are the main reason for the absence: the pandemic has canceled or delayed many hours of driving and driving tests, and because of Brexit, at least 20,000 truck drivers – mostly from Eastern Europe – have left the island and are now reluctant to return.
“No driver will return in just 3 months”
According to expert estimates, the UK urgently needs at least 100,000 drivers. To deal with the crisis, the British government will mobilize 150 troops to refuel gas stations. Another 150 are also on standby. In addition, London announced last Sunday that it would issue urgent visas for drivers from abroad, which will be valid until December 24. They will be mainly involved in refueling petrol stations.
Polish truck drivers scoff at the offer. As is clear from conversations with several TIR drivers, Poles are reluctant to move for just three months. “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, but I will not take this opportunity,” Jakub Paika, who was interviewed by the agency in a parking lot near Warsaw, told Reuters.
“No driver will return in about three months, just so that the British Christmas does not fail,” said the 35-year-old Pole, who had to leave the island because of Brexit.
“Not worth the money”
Pike knows he would make more money in Britain, but it is not enough compensation for “all the hardships and dangers that drivers on the Island are exposed to,” he said. In this regard, the Pole points to, for example, efforts to move abroad, separation from family, as well as the danger of refugees jumping on trucks trying to cross the English Channel.
Jacek Rembikowski, 60, also worked on the island. For seven years. However, he returned to Poland because of Brexit. “It was not clear what the working conditions would be for truck drivers and whether we would be able to stay there after Britain leaves the EU. And I already wanted to return home,” Rembikowski told Reuters. And he has no intention of going to Britain again.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the current shortage of drivers in the country is not just a British phenomenon. That’s why many are wondering if gas stations in Germany can run out of fuel.
And in Germany there is enough work for drivers
The branch union of oil companies is fighting back: “In Germany at the moment we have no difficulties with the supply of fuel for gas stations,” the head of the organization, Christoph Bender, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAC). And energy expert Manuel Frondel of the RWI research institute does not believe that the situation in Britain can be repeated in Germany. According to him, the current crisis on the island is due to lack of labor. For a long time, drivers on the island were poorly paid and relied mainly on Eastern European labor. However, she was expelled from Brexit, he recalls. The crisis in the UK is now so severe that some of the major food chains are already offering huge salaries – over € 60,000 a year – in an attempt to attract new drivers.
“The European labor market has welcomed with open arms those workers who left the island because of Brexit,” said Frank Huster, head of the Federal Forwarding and Logistics Union. This means that other countries also need drivers. Or the British measure with emergency work visas for drivers from abroad may not have much effect. Drivers working in the EU cannot simply terminate their contract and go to the UK for three months.