Business & Economy

UK tries to ease labor crisis threatening Christmas supplies

By Judith Mora

London, Sep 29 (EFE).- The UK government is scrambling to solve an acute fuel crisis sparked by a shortage of truck drivers which could threaten supply chains ahead of Christmas.

In recent days, long lines of vehicles have formed at gas stations to fill up their tanks after some were forced to shut down as stocks of both petrol and diesel fuel ran dry.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said Wednesday that the situation was starting to stabilize.

“We are now seeing signs that the situation at the pumps has begun to improve with more stations getting more fuel,” Kwarteng said. “The sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal.”

In a bid to ease the crisis, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was considering deploying the army to deliver fuel to gas stations in the next few days.

Some 150 military drivers have been put on standby to transport petrol to forecourts, which, according to the director of Portland Fuel company, could generate more panic-buying.

On Sunday, the government said that it would grant 5,000 temporary visas for fuel tanker and food delivery truck drivers eligible to work in the UK over the next three months, but experts said this measure will not solve the crisis as drivers could get better options throughout Europe.

Job vacancies in the UK in the trucking industry, as well as other industries, have been on the rise with a 28.5% increase as of September 24, compared to February 1, 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, according to Indeed, an employment website for job listings.

Both the hospitality and retail sectors warned previously that if the government did not relax post-Brexit immigration rules, supplies and services would be affected in the run-up to Christmas.

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