U.K. Government Rejects Businesses’ Plea on Trucker Shortage
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. retailers grappling with a shortage of truck drivers that’s left some businesses without key products aren’t likely to get the help they want from the government.
Businesses and haulage groups are lobbying for truckers from the European Union to be added to a visa program to allow them to fill an estimated gap of 100,000. The government isn’t inclined to bow to the pressure, according to two people familiar with the matter.
One person in government who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was frustration at the attitude of haulage associations. While many firms blame Brexit, the person said they need to get used to the new reality, and start paying better wages so they can attract staff.
The shortage of drivers, which is also due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has increased delivery times and left firms without some products. In a further escalation of the crisis, drivers at a unit of supermarket chain Tesco Plc are threatening strike action over accusations the company is backtracking on a pay deal.
The U.K. has a resilient food supply chains and will work with the industry on the shortages, according to one of the people. They said the situation isn’t as bad as reported and the government won’t do anything that risks supplies of food.
The government is pushing for the industry to train and hire British drivers, but businesses’ view is that this takes time and may not help with the upcoming Christmas peak.
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