It is the delicate chain that moves the economy, if one link suffers the others begin to malfunction. That’s what is happening right now in Britain, the immigration restrictions brought by Brexit cause worker shortages in key sectors . There are not enough truckers to transport fuel, more than 2,000 gas stations were left with nothing to offer and that makes the rest of the activities begin to suffer.
Pigs cannot be sent to butchers and farms have to slaughter them. Supermarkets already have those dreaded gaps without products between the shelves. And pharmacies cannot replace the medicines they sell. The merchants associations are warning that if this situation continues for another ten days, there won’t be enough supplies for the end of the year parties . The British are feeling directly, for the first time, what exit from the European Union means.
The Boris Johnson government says it is all due to a run by consumers over the spread of fake news on social media . Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News that the number of filling stations with supplies is increasing rapidly and that if people “just shop normally” the problem will correct itself.. The British group of pharmacies, the Company Chemist’s Association (CCA), sees it differently: “The entire supply chain is being impacted by the lack of fuel, from entry into department stores and warehouses to distribution to customers. retail stores ”.
Huge fuel lines are real too, particularly in London. The UK Gas Station Association (PRA), which represents 65% of the 8,400 “petrol stations” spread across the country, says that “very slowly normality is becoming.” But as of last night, 30% of the pumps were dry and another 21% could offer only low-quality diesel. Gas station deposits are at 20% when the annual average is 43%. And there is also a geographical difference of the problem. The shortage is almost total in the south of the country and in London , while the situation improves while traveling to the north of the island, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
Britain’s exit from the European Union worsened the labor shortage, but the situation of the truckers’ union is very particular. It is a very strong union, workers stay in their jobs for decades and there is very little renewal . The Road Haulage Association of road transport operators estimates that Britain faces a deficit of 100,000 drivers .
Around 20% of them are drivers who left the country after Brexit. The government took some extraordinary measures in the last hours to try to get those truckers back. It increased the number of hours they can work each day and has sped up the licensing process. It also offered 5,000 three-month work visas and suspended regulations that prevent oil companies from coordinating deliveries.
The leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, accused Premier Johnson of lack of planning in the replacement of the workers who had to leave as a result of Brexit. And he said the country was on the brink of a shortage of skilled personnel in a number of other industries. The alarms have already been raised in the hotel sector, social assistance and food production.
All of these companies hired immigrant workers from northern European countries, as well as Russians, Central Africans and those escaped from the war in Syria. It was cheap and skilled labor. With the departure of the EU, it was much more difficult for all of them to enter Britain and companies could not replace them with young British workers. “The government of the Tories (conservatives) is absolutely disoriented: it tries to end one problem and another appears elsewhere. And that is a pathetic and regrettable lack of planning, “said Labor Starmer.
Entrepreneurs and merchants start to get nervous as the peak sales season approaches. The British Retailers Association (BRC) already warned, at the outbreak of the truckers’ crisis, that “if a solution was not found in the next ten days, an increase in problems would be inevitable in the face of Christmas ”.
Economic analyst Clive Black told The Times that he anticipates a disaster for December: “ Christmas is going to be a nightmare for consumers.. There will be food on the shelves of the supermarkets, but with a shortage of options. The lack of workers has meant that the farms have not raised enough turkeys and the farms have not enough harvests. And all of this has been exacerbated by the truck driver crisis. ”
Just in case, the government at 10 Downing St. has already ordered the Army to intervene if the situation worsens. The military reserve tanker fleet will deliver fuel in the coming days to alleviate the shortage. And the Secretary of Business, Kwasi Kwarteng, said that this alternative could be extended to other industries if necessary. Meanwhile, statements by taxi drivers or restaurant owners are appearing in the British press who say they feel increasingly regretful of having voted Yes on Brexit .