‘Going backwards’ Trade unions berate Boris for offering visas to foreign HGV drivers

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The Prime Minister eventually backed down from his initial reluctance to issue fresh visas by announcing 5,000 would be approved for foreign truckers. But the Telegraph reports the decision has been criticised by trade union leaders from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Unite.

The RMT, which openly urged its members to vote leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, has now suggested the Government was “importing” labour from the mainland continent.

Mick Lynch, the 59-year-old general secretary of the RMT, told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton that Boris Johnson’s administration was “going backwards” and suggested people in inner city communities were being “left behind”.

He added: “Instead, they want to bring people here from all over Europe, on poverty wages and poor terms and conditions.”

Lynch’s comrade from the Unite union, Adrian Jones, also challenged the Government’s move to introduce fresh visas.

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Mr Jones, who serves as Unite’s national officer for road transport, argued: “Kicking these issues into the long grass instead of taking decisive steps now will only create worse disruption down the line.

“Paying and treating overseas drivers differently from UK drivers is immoral and unjust and has created the problems we see today. It is discrimination and cannot be allowed to carry on.

“It will take long-term commitments and serious action from employers and government if the haulage industry is to be reformed and made fairer and more resilient.”

While the two trade unionists warned against the Government’s move, the leader of the Labour Party has suggested Mr Johnson should offer as many as 100,000 visas to truckers in Europe.

When asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir Starmer said: “We’re going to have to bring in more drivers and more visas… we knew when we exited the EU we would need a backup plan, there is no plan from this government.”

Even Boris Johnson’s sister called on her brother’s Government to further loosen the UK’s immigration rules.

Speaking to former Justice Secretary David Gauke on her LBC show, Rachel Johnson argued that “we actually just need freedom of movement again”.

Despite the overtures made by the Prime Minister, The i has reported drivers in the European Union look set to reject his offer.

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The general secretary of the European Road Haulers Association, Marco Digioia, warned: “I expect many drivers will not return to the UK even if the UK Government allows them to.”

But the EU is also suffering from a shortage in HGV drivers.

It has been estimated that the continent is suffering from a shortage of around 400,000 haulers.

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