Army as reinforcements. The British government announced, on Wednesday, September 29, that 150 soldiers have been trained to face the manpower shortage that the country is suffering from and is leading to a shortage in several sectors. “DrYears in the next few days people will see soldiers commanding the tanker fleet.”Under the guarantee of the Minister of Contracting Kwasi Quarting, as queues multiply in front of dry gas stations. What products are affected by this deficiency? How do we explain this phenomenon, which lasted several weeks? Franceinfo is decoding the situation in the UK.
What sectors are affected?
The UK has faced a serious labor shortage for several months. According to a study conducted by the company Adzuna quoted in early August by Le FigaroThe number of online job offers jumped by 40% in five out of the country’s twelve regions, compared to 2019. Staff shortages affecting many sectors, including freight transport.
As a result, many companies have had difficulties getting supplies since the summer, according to the chain. Sky News*. Fast food chain KFC had to remove some dishes from its menu when McDonald’s was denied milkshakes and some drinks. Due to the shortage of chicken, Nando’s restaurant chain had to temporarily close about fifty restaurants. As for supermarkets, many groups saw their shelves empty due to lack of supplies, especially poultry, drinks and dairy products. Many bars have run out of beer.
At the end of September, the shortage also extended to gas stations. On Sunday, September 25, BP Group announced that a third of its stations had run out of fuel Le Figaro. By the PRA Fuel Distributors Association representing 5,550 independent stations, two-thirds of them dried up on the same date and ‘Almost the others’He adds daily.
Fearing that they will not be able to carry out their tasks due to this shortage, essential workers on Tuesday called on the government to “Give priority to access to service stations”. “Paramedics, nurses, caregivers, teachers, police officers and other essential workers should not find themselves stranded or forced to queue for hours to refuel.”, the union warned Unison on Sky News*. Doctors are also concerned about the consequences for their patients if they have to spend part of their days in queues, while some schools are questioning the possibility of returning to distance education if the shortage persists, according to a report. France 24.
How do we explain this deficiency?
There are several factors behind these difficulties in presentation. As for fuel, the government assures us that the shortage is mainly due to the panic movement: fearing that they would run out of fuel, the British rushed to gas stations that found themselves dry. But the latter is now struggling to refuel, due to a shortage of truck drivers to deliver fuel.
According to the Transport Association, the UK has a shortfall of 100,000 drivers. The executive confirms that this manpower shortage is primarily a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced training centers to close for several months and caused 40,000 tests to be canceled, notes France 24. The back-to-back restrictions have also prompted some European drivers to return home.
But this phenomenon intensified with Britain’s exit from the European Union, which took effect on January 1. The Transport Association estimates that 20,000 European drivers have left their jobs due to the divorce between London and Brussels. At the same time, immigration policy after Brexit “Designed to reduce the number of low-skilled workers coming to the UK”, Eases CNN*. ‘Labour shortage’Perhaps the work would have been less stringent if the UK had maintained the free movement of people.”, says a researcher interviewed by the American channel.
Another consequence of Brexit: importing products is more complicated, and therefore expensive. Quoted from the head of supermarket chain Marks & Spencer, citing Le Figaro, she thus explains having to fill out 700 pages of documents for each of her trucks that presents itself to customs controls. This phenomenon is added to the supply difficulties and high prices caused by the pandemic. Thus, the shortage of containers in Asia has multiplied by a tenth the costs of transportation to the United Kingdom, according to reports BBC*.
Why is it likely to get worse as Christmas approaches?
The retail sector is already starting to worry about the situation deteriorating as the holiday season approaches. Big retailers fear “from Food stocks are running out and prices are rising at Christmas, a situation exacerbated by the rise in gas prices.” Report Le Figaro. UK concerns More specifically to the shortage of turkeys, a traditional holiday dish, because poultry farms have reduced their production due to a lack of labour.
It can also be difficult to find spruce trees, due to the difficulties in importing conifers produced in the European Union, notes guardian*. Not to mention the toys made primarily in Asia whose transportation times and costs have skyrocketed due to the pandemic. It’s obvious that the Christmas holidays are coming “depressed” This year, sums up the British Journal.
What is the UK government doing to correct this?
So far, Downing Street has mostly provided temporary solutions to the labor shortage. In addition to mobilizing 150 soldiers to make up the shortage of truck drivers, the executive branch has pledged to issue up to 10,500 temporary visas to foreign workers. It will be valid for three months, from October to December, when British truck drivers are trained. The government also encouraged employers to raise wages to make these jobs more attractive.
Insufficient responses to the opposition and some players in the trade sector. The Food and Drink Association, which represents more than 800 companies, estimates that food shortages could recur due to lack of manpower, according to the report. BBC*. The head of the British Chamber of Commerce also told CNN that temporary visas would not be the case Insufficient to address the scale of the problem currently affecting supply chains. For her, the government “Try to put out a fire with a glass of water”.
But Boris Johnson confirmed Tuesday that the situation “Improver” At least on top of the fuel, thanks “Delivery [reprenant] in a normal way”. according to guardian*, PRA has confirmed that only 37% of the service stations it represents are now dry, versus two-thirds on Sunday.
* Links marked with asterisks indicate content in English.
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