Iceland and Tesco warn of Christmas shortages due to truck driver crisis – as it happened | Business
And finally … here is our report on how the UK supply chain crisis could derail the holiday season, unless the truck driver shortage is dealt with quickly.
The government is under pressure to relax post-Brexit migration rules to unblock Britain’s worst supply chain crisis since the 1970s, with business leaders warning that continued disruption could ruin Christmas.
Industry bosses have said urgent visa system changes are needed as retailers struggle to keep shelves fully stocked and restaurants run out of food and drink during the Covid-triggered collapse and Brexit.
Industry estimates put in the hundreds of thousands the shortage of workers needed to drive trucks, handle goods in warehouses, and pick fruits and vegetables. Business leaders and trade groups are now warning that if ministers refuse to allow more European workers in the UK, they risk a deeper crisis this winter.
The president of Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket group, called for more drivers to fill an estimated 100,000 shortfall. “I think there may be shortages over Christmas,” he warned.
“Right now we’re working really hard just to stay on top of existing demand and there isn’t the capacity to build up inventory that we would like to see.”
Richard Walker, iceland managing director, said the UK was facing a shortage of truck drivers which was already leading to the cancellation of 30 to 40 daily deliveries to its stores. Explicitly linking the issues to Brexit, he called the crisis a “self-inflicted injury” that was likely to worsen.
“The simple solution is that heavy truck drivers should be added to the list of essential and skilled workers,” he said.
However, ministers do not seem willing to give in on visas. The government continued to insist on Wednesday that employers must do more to recruit and retain British workers.
A Home office spokesperson said:
“The British people have voted repeatedly to end free movement and regain control of our immigration system. Employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of depending on foreign labor. “
The Guardian’s analysis of the Office for National Statistics labor market figures confirms the extent of the decline of East Europeans in the UK workforce since the start of the pandemic, and after the Britain left the EU earlier this year.
The number of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in the UK, who typically held lower-paying logistics and food production positions, has fallen by almost 90,000, or 24% since late 2019. Meanwhile, eight employees Eastern European countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic, fell by more than 100,000, or 12%.
Meanwhile, industry sources said in addition to shortages of truck drivers, there was a shortage of tens of thousands of seasonal farm workers and 14,000 needed at meat processing plants.
Tony danker, general manager of the CBI, said there was no doubt that staff shortages were starting to dampen Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic and that changes to migration rules could help companies facing acute problems.
“The government must have a sectoral vision of the challenges and identify solutions that can have an impact quickly. This could mean being nimble in the way we use our immigration system to bring fixed-term visas for shortage occupations. “
On that note, good night – and thanks for reading and for all the comments. We will be back tomorrow. GW