The lack of heavy merchant drivers is installing fears of a “very difficult winter” in the UK. There are petrol stations without fuel and in some supermarkets the shelves are starting to empty, but the government is calling for calm.
Oil company BP admitted that it had to close some stations due to lack of fuel, a scenario similar to that reported by Exxon Mobile. In a survey by CNBC, Tesco admitted problems at two gas stations, while Sainsbury’s said it had not experienced any anomalies.
According to the Association of Fuel Dealers, there are 8380 service stations in the UK, 1% of which are closed, around 84 accounts made by the BBC, 50 of which belong to BP.
“The failures were caused by some delays in the distribution chain which is impacted by a wider problem, lack of drivers,” a BP source said. “We are working with our hauliers to minimize any future shortages in supply. We are prioritizing service areas on motorways, roads most frequented by truck drivers and places where demand is generally highest,” added the British oil company, in a statement.
Industry sources confirmed to France Presse news agency that fuel shortages are mostly felt in the south-west of England. Although punctual, they are part of a larger problem. “There is pressure on supply chains due to the lack of drivers for heavy goods vehicles,” said the Association of Fuel Dealers, through the voice of Gordon Balmer.
Minister predicts “a very difficult winter”
British energy experts and leaders argue that the pandemic and Brexit have brought about a cut in the total number of lorry drivers, which affects supply chains in other sectors, such as food or building materials.
British Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Paul Scully warned of the possibility of “a very difficult winter for people”, in statements to the television channel ITV, when confronted with news of the lack of fuel and images of empty shelves.
“We are aware that this is going to be a challenge and that is why we cannot underestimate the situation we are in,” Scully told ITV. Later, in statements to the “Radio Times” he said he saw no need for people to “panic and start buying.”
Many of the drivers who left Britain were from Eastern Europe and returned home to escape the pandemic or to escape the tightening of immigration rules.
“We are short of 100,000 drivers at the moment, including 20,000 European drivers who have left the country because of Brexit,” Rod McKenzie, a spokesman for the Road Transport Association (RHA), said in remarks to the BBC television channel.
The British government admits to resorting to Armed Forces drivers to face the lack of drivers of heavy vehicles. “If that helps, we’ll call them,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said. Speaking to the BBC on Friday, he dismissed the idea that there is a lack of fuel, considered that critics were wrong to blame Brexit and argued that the problem of lack of drivers is common to other countries in Europe.
Salary offers of 6400 euros per month for truck drivers
The job market appears to be working in the realms of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. According to the Press, there are job offers for drivers with salaries of around 90,000 euros a year – bills made in the Portuguese fashion, are more than 6400 euros a month, including 14, Christmas and holiday subsidies included in the bills.
There are also annual or monthly bonuses, depending on which companies try to hire truck drivers. The “Iceland” supermarket chain, which says it has at least 100 drivers out of stock, has joined “Morrisons” and “Ocado” in the appeal to include truck drivers in the list of job shortages. , which would allow foreigners to obtain a specialized worker visa to enter England behind the wheel of a lorry.
“You don’t train heavy goods drivers overnight. It will take time. The industry will have to work with what it has,” commented Andrew Goodwin, chief economist at Oxford Economics, in remarks to CNBC television chain.