The military began supplying gas stations across the UK on Monday in a bid to end more than a week of shortages that have forced pumps to shut down and left motorists without fuel.
Army tanker drivers underwent training over the weekend to deliver fuel across the country from Monday. The UK government said in a statement on Friday that nearly 100 tanker drivers would be deployed from this week to “further ease pressure on gas stations and address the shortage of heavy goods vehicles.” [Heavy Goods Vehicle] Drivers. “
The intervention is part of a series of emergency measures announced by the government to deal with the fuel crisis. It also issues temporary work visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers and suspends competition law to allow suppliers to deliver fuel to competing operators. Over the weekend, he extended the validity of 300 emergency visas for fuel drivers from December 24 to March 31. 4,700 additional truck drivers will be able to stay until February 28.
The crisis is now entering its second week. It started when BP was forced to temporarily close some of its gas stations earlier in September for the second time in as many months due to a shortage of tanker drivers made worse by the pandemic and Brexit.
The closure of stations sparked a wave of panic buying among British motorists, depleting stocks almost as quickly as they were restocked. The British Medical Association warned last week that healthcare workers, including ambulance drivers, will not be able to do their jobs as pumps run dry.
The situation has since improved in parts of the country but remains “critical” in London and the south-east of the country, where many service stations are dry, according to the Petrol Retailers Association.
President Brian Madderson said in a statement on Saturday that a survey of 1,000 independent gas stations showed that just over two-thirds had both grades of fuel. Some 16% were still dry, while 16% had only one grade of fuel.
Post-Brexit immigration rules
There has been a shortage of truck drivers in the UK for years, but it has been exacerbated recently by the pandemic, which has delayed the issuance of new licenses, and Brexit, which has driven tens of thousands of nationals from the EU to quit trucking jobs and other professions in Brittany.
According to the Road Haulage Association, the country is short of around 100,000 truck drivers, a situation that also affects food deliveries to supermarkets.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday blamed high levels of pre-Brexit immigration for the situation the country is currently facing.
“People don’t want to get into the trucking industry, [they] don’t want to be [truck] drivers precisely because we had this massive immigration approach and kept wages low, kept the quality of jobs low, ”he told reporters.
He did not rule out further easing visa restrictions, but insisted he did not want a return to “low-wage immigration”. The UK government has repeatedly insisted that lasting solutions to the crisis would be driven by employers offering better wages and conditions.
Labor shortages have been exacerbated by the government’s post-Brexit immigration system and negatively affect adult food production, financial services, hospitality and social care.
Pig farmers last week said a shortage of butchers and drivers has created a backlog of more than 100,000 animals, which they could be forced to slaughter.
– Sharon Braithwaite, Amy Cassidy and Anna Cooban contributed reporting.
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