Only 27 fuel tanker drivers from the EU have applied to work in the UK through the government’s emergency visa scheme, it has emerged.
The scheme, which was put in place to help with Britain’s fuel shortages, has attracted little interest among EU drivers, according to The Times.
Earlier this week, the government said it would allow 300 drivers to “immediately” come to the UK until March and help deliver petrol across Britain – but only 9 per cent of those have been taken.
A Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey of its members estimates there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers in the UK across all sectors.
Giving up a well-paid job for another lasting a few months
The number of applicants are now raising concerns about supplies.
Rod McKenzie, policy director at the Road Haulage Association, told the newspaper: “People don’t want to come unless it is a really attractive alternative.
“You don’t give up a well-paid job for a better-paid job if it will only last a few months.”
Last weekend, health secretary Sajid Javid said he was “confident” the government offer to HGV drivers from abroad will make them come to the UK.
Ministers insist shortages are ‘not a British-only problem’
He told Sky News: “Of course there is competition for drivers – that’s taking place throughout Europe – but it is important that we try to do what we can.
“I am confident with the temporary visa changes that have been announced we will get more drivers.”
And senior Treasury minister Simon Clarke also claimed last week that the idea that fuel shortages are only a British problem is “fundamentally wrong”.
But Mihai Cercel, an HGV company manager in Romania, told The London Economic: “I didn’t have any problems with fuel shortages. I also haven’t heard of anyone having these problems. We don’t have such problems in Romania.”
A further 4,700 for lorry drivers from abroad will be allowed from this month until the end of February to help with food supplies.
Commenting in a group called ‘Koleka Problem’, George Mihulecea from Bucharest, Romania, said “most of the drivers left because of work condition reasons” and that it is not “worth it anymore” to come to the UK.
‘They think drivers are waiting at the border to be employed in the UK’
He added: “I wish them luck. They think drivers are waiting at the border to be employed in UK.
“Drivers shortage is just the beginning, the warehouse operators will be the next to leave.”
Vytautas Bielskis from Breda in the Netherlands said there is “no chance” he would come work under the post-Brexit visa rules proposed by the UK government.
Showing a middle finger emoji at the temporary Tory proposals, Marius Blekaitis said: “Boris is hoping that 5,000 drivers will work overtime.”
Blekaitis said this would mean helping the UK with Boris Johnson’s “‘best deal ever’ shit” and then be told to get out of Britain “again”.
In August, Romanian lorry driver Viorel Alexandru Onu told The London Economic he was planning to return to Romania as his EU work conditions were better than the ones he has in the UK.
Onu said being a lorry driver requires sacrifices and is not “necessarily a pleasure to do”.