UK probes visa change to ease trucker shortages

The British government is expected to ease visa rules for truck drivers. It is an attempt to fix supply-chain problems that have triggered long lines at gas stations. Last Friday, the government said it was “looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems.” It said any action it took would be “very strictly time-limited.”

The UK haulage industry is short tens of thousands of truckers due to a perfect storm of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic, an aging workforce, and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s departure from the EU. Post-Brexit immigration rules mean EU citizens can no longer live and work visa-free in Britain, as they could when the UK was a member of the trade bloc. Trucking companies have been urging the Conservative government to ease immigration rules so drivers can more easily be recruited from across Europe.

Britain’s farming and food processing industries, which are short of fruit-pickers and meat-packers, have made similar requests. The government has resisted, saying British workers should be trained up to take the jobs. It has stressed that Britain is not short of fuel, but that has not stopped motorists forming lines at gas stations to fill up just in case.


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