Huge queues in front of gas stations and empty shelves in shops – the images that the United Kingdom has recently provided are astonishing. The causes of these problems, however, are more complex than you might think. It’s not just about Brexit.
- The British panicked to buy fuel
- The EG Group chain, which manages around 350 stations, has introduced a limit on gasoline purchases, and BP has temporarily closed some of the stations
- Some popular supermarkets lack products. Popular fast-food chains are also facing their shortage
- The food industry is calling for a quick solution to the problem of the lack of drivers, because it expects a similar phenomenon – even on a larger scale – before Christmas
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On the weekend, photos and videos were streamed from the Islands showing lines of cars lined up in front of gas stations. Panicked people started to refuel their cars, fearing that there would not be enough fuel for them.
The Gasoline Sellers Association warned on Sunday that 2/3 of the points of sale ran out of fuel, and that the rest of the fuel will run out soon. The cause of this problem is the lack of tanker and truck drivers, points out the British government and the fuel industry. Due to the lack of the latter, large British supermarket chains as well as McDonald’s and KFC experienced serious problems with supply.
To understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to look at it more than just through the prism of Brexit. The Road Carriers Association estimates that the UK needs an additional 100,000. truck drivers. As the representatives of this organization explain, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many drivers from abroad to come to their homeland and the vast majority have not yet returned to the Islands.
A gas station in London running out of fuel on September 26, 2021.
The pandemic also caused delays in the exams for truck drivers, which prevented tens of thousands of potential new drivers from joining the industry, Sky News points out and reports that in 2020, as many as 40 thousand were canceled exams, and there were as many as 25 thousand people who took them. less than before the pandemic.
The complexity of the problem Jakub Krupa, a journalist living in the UK, also notedwhich recalled the Road Transport Association’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June of this year.
Among the causes of the problems, the carriers mention those described above, but they also pay attention to the fact that they are aging. “The average age of a truck driver is 55, and less than 1% of drivers are under 25. Prolonged periods of economic inactivity resulted in a large part of this aging workforce taking early retirement or finding employment in other, less demanding sectors, “they wrote in a letter to the head of government.
According to the association, about 2,000 people each week of drivers quit their jobs, partly because they retire. “More drivers are leaving than coming, so week after week something new hits the supply chain, which crackles and crumbles,” says Rod McKenzie of the Road Carriers Association, quoted by Sky News.
Queue of cars in front of one of London’s gas stations, September 26, 2021.
Brexit did not help either. Carriers explain that the uncertainty related to the departure of Great Britain from the EU and the rules governing work in the UK will be it forced many drivers to leave and “the vast majority of them have not returned, nor are they expected to come back”.
The food and commercial industry is afraid of the holidays
The sight of purchased products in stores and reports of problems with the distribution of fuels stirs up emotions and makes people panic to go shopping. The UK food industry warned a few days ago that panic buying-out will only increase in the run-up to the holiday season if the problem is not resolved. National The Farmers’ Union called for an emergency visato enable companies to recruit people from outside the UK.
And these unionists wrote to the prime minister in a letter stating that the food and agriculture sectors are teetering on a gap due to the lack of workers in the entire supply chain.
“We urgently need to be able to recruit from outside the UK within the next 12 months, to survive the winter and help us save Christmas“- say farmers and representatives of the food industry in a letter to the prime minister.
British media a few days ago quoted a Tesco representative who admitted that the specter of a shortage of goods in stores before Christmas is very real. Tesco needs 800 experienced truck drivers to deliver goods. The distribution and implementation director of this network believes it is ahead of Christmas The Christmas panic and empty shelves will return.
What ideas does the British government have to remedy this situation? As for the queues in front of gas stations, this is the rulers assure that there is no shortage of fuel in the UK. The British Transport Minister last Sunday called for the British to be wise and to refuel only when necessary, and not to buy excess fuel, to spare.
Fuel companies also explain that the stocks of gasoline and diesel oil are sufficient. It is the lack of truck drivers that makes it difficult to transport fuels from refineries to gas stations, they emphasize.
Only a British-Dutch petrochemical group Royal Dutch Shell announced on Monday that fuel demand was higher than usual and the ensuing a shortage of certain types of fuel in parts of Great Britain.
The British government intends to increase the number of truck driver exams, and is considering allowing entry to the UK on short-term visas of 5,000. foreign drivers.
The Guardian said on Sunday that the government did not rule out the use of military gas for the transport.
“Operation Escalin”, developed in the event of a no-deal Brexit, was to be launched, which involves the use of 80 military tanks for gasoline transport across the country. However, the environment minister said on Monday that there are no plans to use the army yet to defuse the crisis.
The British daily reported that another proposed solution to defuse the crisis is the temporary loosening of the regulations on trade relations between oil companies and retail fuel distributors.
Sources: SkyNews, BBC, PAP