‘Fed up’: UK petrol pumps still dry, fears over pig slaughter rise

A worker guides vehicles onto the concourse as they queue to refuel at a fuel station in London, Britain, on Sept. 30, 2021. REUTERS / Hannah McKay

  • Many gas stations remain closed – Reuters reporters
  • Britain says crisis is stabilizing
  • Retailers: unprecedented demand for fuel
  • Pig slaughter fears: farmers warn of butcher shortage
  • Pig farmers urge retailers to avoid EU pork

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Many British gas stations were still dry on Friday after a chaotic week of panic buying, fights at the pumps and drivers piling up fuel in water bottles after an acute accident. A shortage of truck drivers strained supply chains until they broke. point.

Worker shortages in the wake of Brexit and the COVID pandemic have sown disorder in some sectors of the economy, disrupting deliveries of fuel and medicine and leaving as many as 150,000 pigs on farms.

British ministers have insisted for days that the crisis is subsiding or even ending, although retailers said more than 2,000 filling stations were dry and Reuters reporters in London and southern England said dozens of pumps were still closed. .

Queues of often irate drivers were returning from gas stations that were still open in London.

“I am completely, completely fed up. Why is the country unprepared for anything?” said Ata Uriakhil, a 47-year-old Afghan taxi driver who was the first in line of more than 40 cars outside a closed Sainsbury’s gas station in Richmond.

“When is it going to end?” Said Uriakhil. “Politicians are not able to do their job properly. The government should have been prepared for this crisis. It is simply incompetence.”

Uriakhil said he had lost about 20% of his normal income this week because he had been waiting for fuel instead of picking up customers.

Ministers say the world is facing a global shortage of truck drivers and that they are working to alleviate the crisis. They deny that the situation is the result of an exodus of workers from the EU following Britain’s departure from the bloc and have dismissed concerns that the country is heading into a “winter of discontent” of shortages and power outages.

Although there is a shortage of truck drivers in other countries, EU members have seen no shortage of fuel.

The Gasoline Retailers Association (PRA) said members reported Thursday that 27% of the pumps were dry, 21% had only one type of fuel in stock and 52% had enough gasoline and diesel.

After a shortage of truckers sparked panic over gas station purchases, farmers are now warning that a shortage of butchers and slaughterhouse workers could force a mass slaughter of up to 150,000 pigs.

PIGS OF THE UNITED STATES?

The British pig industry implored retailers to continue to buy local pork and not cheaper EU products, saying the companies would go out of business and the cattle would be culled if producers did not receive immediate support.

The weekly slaughter of pigs has dropped by 25% since August after the pandemic and Britain’s post-Brexit immigration rules combined to affect an industry already struggling for workers, causing a shortage now acute of butchers and slaughterhouses.

“As a result of labor supply problems in pork processing plants, we currently have an estimated 120,000 backed pigs in UK pig farms that should have gone to slaughter,” said the National Association of Pigs in a letter to retailers.

“The only option for some will be to slaughter the pigs on the farm.”

The meat processing industry has long struggled to find enough workers, but has been affected by the departure of many workers from Eastern Europe who returned home due to Brexit and COVID-19.

The swine association said that despite attempts to persuade the government to relax immigration rules, it appeared to have reached a dead end. Britain recently changed tack to allow some international workers to come in for three months to drive trucks and fill gaps in the poultry sector.

Additional reporting from Costas Pitas, Kate Holton, James Davey, and Sarah Young; written by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Andy Bruce and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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