Truck driver

Over 2,000 UK service stations remain dry due to shortage of truck drivers

A sign indicating a lack of fuel is displayed at the entrance of a gas station in London on September 30.

Frank Augstein / The Associated Press

More than two thousand UK service stations were still dry on Thursday as a shortage of truck drivers began to disrupt deliveries to pharmacies, while farmers warned that a shortage of butchers could lead to a mass slaughter of pigs.

In a chaotic week of fighting erupted at petrol stations and people filling old water bottles with petrol, UK ministers have repeatedly said the crisis is subsiding, although they ordered soldiers on Wednesday to start driving tankers.

Ministers dismissed accusations that the truck driver shortage was caused by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, highlighting similar shortcomings elsewhere after COVID-19 lockdowns halted thousands of driver tests from truck.

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The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 65% of Britain’s 8,380 forecourts, said on Thursday that 27% of pumps were dry, 21% had only one type of fuel in stock and 52% had enough fuel. gasoline and diesel.

“It is running out faster than usual due to unprecedented demand,” said PRA executive director Gordon Balmer, who said he always hears about verbal and physical abuse against staff at gas station.

Reuters journalists visited 10 gas stations in and around London on Thursday. Three were open. A line of dozens of drivers returned from one of the open stations with staff trying to steer the line.

Such is the shortage of truckers that pharmacies were hit.

“The entire supply chain has been affected from the supply of inbound wholesale depots to deliveries from outbound depots to pharmacies,” said a spokesperson for the association which represents large operators of pharmacies.

Besides fuel and medicine, the agricultural industry has warned that hundreds of thousands of pigs may need to be slaughtered within weeks unless the government issues visas to allow more butchers in the country.

Data from the Department of Transportation showed car traffic fell 6 percentage points on Monday from the previous week to the lowest volume on a Monday not a holiday since July 12. England ended COVID restrictions on July 19.

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The disruption and surge in prices it is expected to fuel threatens to undermine economic growth in Britain, which is forecast at 7% this year.

Data released Thursday by the Office for National Statistics showed the economy grew more than previously thought during the April-June period before what looked like a sharp slowdown more recently as bottlenecks Post-lockdown throttling, including the truck driver shortage, is piling up.

PIG SLAUGHTER

The gas station crisis has sparked contempt in some European capitals, with senior politicians suggesting Britain’s truck driver shortage was a clear consequence of its 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU.

British ministers denied this, although tens of thousands of European truckers left during the Brexit maelstrom.

An acute shortage of butchers and slaughterers in the meat processing industry has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy, which has restricted the flow of workers from Europe to the ‘East.

Lizzie Wilson, head of political services at the National Pig Association (NPA), said the shortage of butchers meant processors were operating at 25% reduced capacity.

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As a result, mature pigs ready for processing are declining on farms, leading to welfare issues.

“There are currently around 120,000 pigs sitting on a farm that should have been slaughtered, butchered, part of the food chain and eaten by now,” Wilson said.

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said a slaughter of up to 150,000 hogs was “potentially within a week, ten days.”

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