The Boris Johnson government has taken a radical turn in an attempt to save Christmas, with a series of emergency visas extended to help reduce the labor shortage that has caused empty shelves and queues at stations. service.
The new immigration measures will allow 300 petrol drivers to arrive immediately and stay until the end of March, while 100 military drivers will take to the roads starting Monday, the government announced late on Friday.
Approximately 4,700 food transport drivers will arrive from the end of October and will leave at the end of February.
The rules mean that the government has given in to lobbying by the food and fuel industries and has extended some temporary visa schemes further. Christmas Eva and in the new year.
The move, designed to address the chronic disruption of supply chains, is a major policy shift after ministers previously insisted they would not relax immigration rules in response to the crisis.
Comes as lord Keir starmer, the Labor leader, demanded that parliament be convened to solve the fuel and food shortages.
Nearly 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, will be deployed starting Monday to provide temporary support as part of the government’s broader action to promote relieve pressure at gas stations and address the shortage of heavy vehicle drivers.
To help increase fuel stocks, military personnel are now being trained at transportation sites across the country, the government said, and from Monday they will be on the road delivering fuel supplies.
Fuel transport drivers from abroad will be able to work in the UK immediately and will not be subject to prior barriers, according to a statement from the Cabinet Office.
“Carriers will find licensed drivers to recruit and submit applications to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which will support applicants with the necessary license and contract to work as a fuel driver,” the statement said.
The shortage of up to 100,000 heavy vehicle (HGV) drivers, exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit, has also affected the food sector and other industries. The British Retail Consortium warned that a significant Christmas hiatus was inevitable unless the problem was contained within a few days.
The announcement also confirmed that 5,500 poultry workers will arrive from the end of October and will be allowed to stay until the end of this year.
The visas were announced after poultry producers, who previously relied on Eastern European labor, warned of threats to Christmas and possible overcrowding on farms due to lack of workers.
Supermarkets and restaurants across the UK are expected to import hundreds of thousands of birds from the EU after British farmers raised fewer.
Johnson’s Brexit campaign was founded to give the UK more control over immigration and end free movement.
The Interior Ministry had opposed adding heavy vehicle drivers to the formal shortage list of occupations, but is believed to have been convinced to back a more short-term visa scheme.
Other sectors suffering from labor shortages, such as hospitality and social assistance, are now likely to pressure ministers to grant them exemptions as well as.
During the Labor party conference in Brighton this week, Starmer called on the government to extend the plan to six months, describing that the earlier Christmas Eve deadline was not “long enough.”
The government statement insisted that it will return to its commitment to training UK workers and will no longer rely on hiring foreign staff.
Trade Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Thanks to the immense efforts of the industry over the past week, we are seeing continued signs that the situation at pumps is slowly improving.
“Stock levels at UK service stations are on an upward trend, fuel deliveries to service stations are above normal levels and demand for fuel is stabilizing.”
He added: “We want employers to make long-term investments in the UK’s domestic workforce rather than relying on foreign labor to build a high-wage, highly-skilled economy.”