European truckers drive a hard bargain for UK return as labour shortages spread

Fri 1 Oct 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Companies are having to pay European lorry drivers salaries of up to a fifth more than British drivers to attract them to the UK to save Christmas.

With the 5,000 HGV visas only valid for three months, the inflated wages are seen as a necessary lure. 

However, Logistics UK has said the short duration makes the scheme “impotent”, reports the Telegraph.

‘Three months too little’

Elizabeth de Jong, the industry body’s policy director, said: “The three-month visa was much lower than the six months we had requested to enable additional testing capacity to be delivered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and more drivers to be trained.”

Companies bringing in drivers will be expected to provide them with return travel, as well as any medical and accommodation bills on top of the increased salaries.

Supply chain problems are spreading in the agriculture sector, reports the FT, risking Halloween pumpkin distribution and pork production.

The now-familiar double whammy of driver and labour shortages has disrupted vegetable picking with some crops left to rot. However, a DEFRA insider denied problems, saying “there are not pumpkin shortages”.

Cut price pigs

The National Pig Association (NPA) reports 120,000 pigs backed up on farms due to a shortage of labour and CO2 in abattoirs, which could result in the first industry cull since the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic two decades ago.

Some abattoirs are offering to slaughter excess pigs and “six cut” them, which means cutting them into six pieces as low value exports to China and the Philippines. This process does not require skilled butchery.

City loss

City of London bosses are also worried about staffing costs and are calling for short term visas for bankers, reports the FT

Pressure group TheCityUK says the UK risks losing out on the global battle for skills. Within UK-based financial services, about a fifth of workers are international. This rises to 42% of employees in the booming fintech sector, TheCityUK says.

Fast fashion is also being slowed by supply chain disruption following recent warnings from both Next and Boohoo of rising costs and logistical difficulties, reports the BBC. 

Next’s chief executive Lord Wolfson said warehouse and logistics staffing were “beginning to come under pressure”.

He added: “We anticipate that, without some relaxation of immigration rules, we are likely to experience some degradation in our service in the run up to Christmas.”

Boohoo said that while its sales were up 20% to £975.9m in the six months to 31 August, its profits had also been dented by duties and extra checks at customs.