2021-09-26 23:29:27 U.K. Offers Thousands of Visas to Foreign Truckers to Ease Driver Shortage

U.K. Offers Thousands of Visas to Foreign Truckers to Ease Driver Shortage

Though business groups generally welcomed the government’s action, some questioned whether it would be sufficient. The government’s reversal comes after the hauling and logistics industries in the United Kingdom pleaded with lawmakers to relax visa restrictions for European Union drivers. Logistics U.K., a trade group, had asked for 10,000 seasonal visas for drivers, similar to a farm worker program.

“While we welcome the visa scheme to allow H.G.V. drivers from abroad to temporarily fill domestic shortages in food and fuel logistics, the 5,000 visa limit will do little to alleviate the current shortfall,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, a trade association.

“Supermarkets alone have estimated that they require at least 15,000 H.G.V. drivers to operate at full capacity ahead of Christmas and avoid disruption or availability issues,” he said in a statement.

Until this weekend, the government had refused to issue more visas. Instead, it increased the number of hours a driver could work per day and proposed new recruitment initiatives.

Mr. Shapps, the transport secretary, argued in his statement that the long-term solution lay with British employers. “We are acting now,” he said, “but the industries must also play their part by continuing to improve working conditions and maintaining well-deserved salary increases in order for companies to retain new drivers.”

According to the Road Haulage Association, which represents the British road transportation industry, there is a 100,000-driver shortage. “Ninety-five percent of everything we get in Britain comes on the back of a truck,” the association’s policy director, Rod McKenzie, recently stated.

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U.K. Offers Thousands of Visas to Foreign Truckers to Ease Driver Shortage