The hope is that the petrol ‘crisis’ which was created by various causes will have eased by the time this is published. It is a chicken and egg argument, has Brexit (the word hidden under the pandemic by media, newsreaders and politicians) created this situation regarding a lack of lorry drivers, nurses and carers, or is it a political neglect of not looking ahead and having a strategy from 2016 to deal with the difficulties, as the new immigration policy pushed out most of the foreign workers. They were accused of driving down the wages, no, it was the companies who used them and exploited the option and government let it go on.
We have now had 18 months of various lockdowns, many working from home, why are so many HGV licenses not dealt with? This has now increased the shortage of drivers. There were times when some HGV tests could have taken place, but again no strategy to look ahead. I would like to quote here a heartfelt story written by Jim Titheridge on Facebook, a lorry driver for 30 years. The conditions are very little talked about and the class system still prevails in 2021.
“So, you are running out of fuel and supplies. Why is that? Shortages of goods, no, shortage of money, drivers, maybe, but not because there is a shortage of people who can drive but are not willing any more to do so. Why is that? I can’t answer for all drivers but can give reasons why I am not driving any more. My dream was to be the knight on the roads providing a service. What I didn’t take into account was the absolute abuse my profession got over the years and no respect. First, it was the erosion of truck parking and transport cafes, then massive restrictions where to stop, time wait limits in every city and town, You can get there, deliver but can’t stay, no-one wants an empty truck overnight once they have what they want.
“Compare this with France. I can park in every town/village, marked parking bays, nearby there will be a Routier where I can have a meal and shower, locals respect me. Go on the motorway services I can park at no cost, get a shower for little cost and freshly cooked food. I am even able to jump the queues because others know I am on limited time, they respect the job I do. I know that Canterbury has zero truck parking facilities as most villages and towns in this country. Give me a good reason why I or others would want to go back to those conditions. We spend our nights/weeks away from home to service you with wanted/needed goods, surely we deserve access to basic services. It’s not up to the licensed drivers or just increasing wages but a wider issue that will bring the needed 100,000 drivers back. It is up to councils/governments to get building better conditions across the country and for society to respect this difficult job. You could not give me enough money to return as a lorry driver.”
And it isn’t just one problem with lorry drivers, what about the lack of nurses and carers, short in every department. Once Brexit and its immigration policy was voted for, there should have been foresight in planning and action, rather than paying out money for a royal yacht, or contracts given out for a lot of money to cronies like test and trace which didn’t work. We can’t hide all the shortcomings of government and Brexit under the pandemic blanket. And how patronising and egotistic to think that European drivers are just waiting to plug the gaps in England after being told to leave. On top of that, the visas are only until March 31, 2022.
Image Credits: John Minter .