Christmas prices will rise in Britain, truckers say

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TATSFIELD, England (Businesshala) – Truckers have a warning message for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: a severe shortage of drivers is pushing up their wages and will affect the prices of food and gifts in the run-up to the pandemic. for Christmas.

FILE PHOTO: A shopper looks at the meat aisle produce and empty shelves at the Co-op supermarket, Harpenden, Britain, September 22, 2021. Businesshala / Peter Zibora

A wind of chaos has gripped the world’s fifth-largest economy in recent days as a shortage of truck drivers has left fuel pumps across the country dry, and rising European wholesale natural gas prices have driven energy companies into bankruptcy. has changed.

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The United Kingdom is short of about 100,000 truck drivers after tens of thousands returned to the EU during the Brexit maelstrom and 40,000 truck driver tests were canceled during the COVID-19 lockdown.

At the Clackett Lane service station next to London’s M25 orbital motorway, drivers from the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Turkey stand to rest after traveling from every corner of Europe had gone.

Over a light splash of sewage, cigarette smoke and diesel fumes in the truck park, several drivers told Businesshala in several different languages ​​that wages would have to be increased.

He spoke of a difficult and lonely life on the road: filthy rain, high parking fees, haunted nights by knife-wielding thieves, illegal migrants looking for a secret ride, and the pain of divorce after being separated from wives and children. In.

“Wages have to go up, so everything we deliver, everything you buy on the shelves, prices have to go up,” said Craig Holness, a 51-year-old British truck driver with 27 years of experience. Up for a break.

Truck drivers’ rising salaries may give investors an insight into a puzzle plaguing investors: whether or not the world is on the verge of continuing price hikes following scuffles by governments and central banks during the COVID crisis.

Sterling has fallen on fears that truck shortages could stifle economic growth, estimated at 7% this year. Amid truck shortages, the Bank of England said last week that CPI inflation was projected to temporarily rise in the near-term to 4% in the final quarter of the year “primarily due to growth in energy and commodity prices. “

Hauler companies and recruitment agencies are struggling to fill truck driver jobs: a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) was advertising for a Class 1 driver for £75,000 ($102,500) a year, the highest level. had the recruiter ever heard of.

“With HGV drivers, we are now paying them 40% more than they were four months ago,” Jordan Francis, commercial director of recruitment agency Prodrive, told Businesshala.

He recalled a driver whose hourly wage had risen to £22.50 an hour, up from £14.00 an hour in March. 1,000 sign-on bonus is also being offered.

‘Marriage Killer’

Holnes said the shortage of drivers would not subside any time soon as conditions were so bad that many young people refused to do so.

While trying to snatch some sleep near West Bromwich in central England recently, thieves cut an 11-foot hole in his canvas, causing hours of delay and tension.

“Who wants to be a lorry driver – you better tap the keyboard, right? Kids these days don’t want to know,” Holnes said. “I want to get out.”

He suggested that Johnson, who was educated at Eton, Britain’s most elite school, and Oxford, its most elite university, should spend several days trucking in to understand the issues.

“You’re basically treated like scum of the earth,” said Phil, a 52-year-old British truck driver from Malvern in central England who just took a significant pay increase. “Prices will go up.”

He said that many trucks stop with urine and feces – and the job allowed limited time to see the family.

“It’s a marriage killer,” he said.

The government on Sunday announced plans to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers. None of the truck drivers interviewed by Businesshala thought many would accept the offer.

“It’s hard work and the youth don’t want it,” said truck driver Anton Pogodin, 37, originally from Omsk in Siberia, who now drives from Portugal.

But in Bucharest, some Romanian truck drivers were tempted by the offer.

‘Brexit chaos’

British ministers have repeatedly denied that Brexit caused truck shortages, but many EU drivers blame just that for prompting so many Eastern European drivers to pull out.

“Nobody else has a problem like the one you’re getting here,” said 65-year-old Belgian driver Patrice Reuss. “It’s because of Brexit.”

“Good luck to you sir Johnson,” he quipped.

Miguel Brunel, a 41-year-old driver from Bethune in northern France, questioned the logic of replacing so many British drivers with those from Eastern Europe, in order to inevitably lead those drivers to quit.

“If they had maintained the market for English drivers instead of replacing them with drivers from Eastern Europe, they would not have been in this position,” said Brunel in French.

“It’s chaos,” he said.

($1 = 0.7311 pounds)

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Kate Holton and Jonathan Shenfield; Editing by Alistair Bell


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