The Government did not embrace the option to bring EU lorry drivers back, insisting employers facing shortages ‘should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad’
A trade group insisted that EU lorry drivers should receive a temporary work visa to help to alleviate the HGV drivers’ shortage. The trade association asked the Government to provide 10,000 visas in an attempt to get drivers back behind the wheel.
A survey showed that over 14,000 EU lorry drivers left their jobs in the UK in one year due to Brexit and the Covid pandemic, and only 600 returning since.
This has led to a huge hole in the industry’s workforce, and the effects are already visible as supplies decrease, affecting supermarkets, restaurants, pubs, etc.
Logistics UK’s Alex Veitch said: “The EU workers who left the UK in the year ending June 2020, ahead of Brexit, were critical to the supply chain’s resilience, and we are now starting to see the impact their departure has had on supplies to businesses, retailers, homes, and schools.”
Even if the industry is working very hard to recruit new British drivers, there is still a need for a quicker solution.Alex Veitch urged the government to act in the same way they have done with agricultural workers when they allowed 30,000 individuals to come to the UK on a T5 visa for up to six months.
Mr. Veitch declared there are eight different short-term work visa scheme in place across the creative, sports, and seasonal work industries, and the same opportunity should be given to lorry drivers.
“Logistics UK is facing a long term shortage of staff, which has been made much worse by the loss of our EU workforce. While we wait for new recruits to complete their training, which can take up to nine months, the logical solution would be to introduce a temporary visa scheme to keep the vehicles moving,” Alex Veitch added. “After all, there is no point in picking and packing food if there is no one available to move it to buyers.”
A government spokesperson rejected the call for EU workers to be brought in. They said: “The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.
“We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of tests able to be conducted. We have also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but these must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.”
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