‘Increase pay!’ Left and right unite to rage against shops’ demand for EU lorry drivers

Brexit 'to blame' for lorry driver shortage says Dr Shola

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Due to issues with shipping from Asia, shoppers could face a reduced range of products including best-selling items such as PlayStation 5 and Barbies. To add to the problem, meat processors are already six weeks behind preparations due to labour shortages as a result of Brexit.

Richard Walker, the managing director of Iceland, and John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, both warned time is running out for the issue to be resolved.

Mr Walker warned: “The real worry is that time is quickly running out as we approach the extremely busy Christmas period, during which a strong supply chain is vital for everyone.”

While Mr Allan said Tesco had faced delays in building stock for Christmas as a result of the shortages.

He told BBC Radio 4: “We are very short of drivers.

“At the moment we’re running very hard just to keep on top of the existing demand and there isn’t the capacity to build stocks that we’d like to see.

“So, in that sense, I think there may be some shortages at Christmas.”

New visa regulations as a result of Brexit are partly blamed for the lack of lorry drivers and food processors.

However, global factors including port closures in China throughout the pandemic have had a major impact on imports around the world.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents big retailers, urged Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to help with the shortfall of heavy goods vehicle drivers by providing temporary visas for EU drivers.

Now, politicians on both sides have united in the fight against the lack of lorry drivers ahead of the festive season.

Tory MP, Sir John Redwood tweeted: “Business can solve the driver shortage by raising wages and improving working conditions.

“Just recruit and train some more.”

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The Opposition party agreed that the shortage of drivers could be easily rectified by improving the pay of truck drivers.

Labour MP Jon Trickett tweeted: “Truck drivers are paid an average of just £11.80 an hour.

“Increase their pay properly and watch how quickly your ‘shortage’ disappears.”

A Whitehall source echoed the notion and said retailers need to offer higher wages and invest in training domestic workers.

The source told the Times: “They [retailers] know what the answer is, it’s just expensive.

“There are millions of people unemployed and 90,000 vacancies.

“They need to pay more and offer training.

“Government is not going to budge on that.”

A Government spokesman said: “We have a highly resilient food supply chain.

“We have well-established ways of working with the food sector and are working closely with them to ensure businesses have the labour they need.

“We have put in place a package of measures to tackle the HGV driver shortage.

“Additionally, our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.

“As part of this, we are streamlining the process for people to get their HGV licence.”

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