A Polish lorry driver revealed why his Eastern European industry colleagues are leaving the UK.
In a personal piece, Tomasz Oryński, who is also a journalist, laid bare the UK media’s diversity problem when it comes to Eastern Europeans, as he admitted facing rejection by the industry for years and going into lorry driving, which Britain “needs”.
He wrote in The House magazine: “You need lorry drivers. Just as you need millions of other Eastern European workers to keep the economy moving – builders, warehouse operators, nurses, kitchen porters, housekeepers, waiters – sprinkled with the occasional academic, manager or doctor.”
UK problems and a lack of respect
Oryński said Eastern Europeans, who were a significant part of UK’s lorry drivers, left the country because of bureaucracy caused by Brexit, and went to EU countries, “where being a truck driver is still an attractive job.”
But problems persisting before Brexit, such as high living costs, poor quality of life and a lack of facilities also contributed to their decision.
The driver cited a lack of access to toilets and showers, the absence of restaurants offering healthy food choices and measures taken by local councils in Britain which saw more parking restrictions and less ability for truckers to park overnight.
More than anything, Oryński referred to a lack of respect Eastern European drivers have experienced.
“While in the rest of Europe truckers are seen as providers of essential services not only during the peak of pandemic, British attitudes mean they are often treated like peasants by office staff and personnel at the point of delivery or collection,” he said.
He added: “After years of politicians and the media working very hard to convince Eastern Europeans they are not welcome here, it now thinks it can lure them back with temporary visa job offers.”
Choosing to work in the EU
Oryński said he recently compared two job adverts for lorry drivers – one for Poland and one for the UK, and suggested the better choice was obviously Poland.
Although the UK job paid £40 more per day, he said it would come with bad roads with no facilities, a lack of job perks matching those offered by EU employers and the UK’s expectations to fork out money for a visa on top of plane tickets, Covid tests, accommodation, commute, bills, rent and taxes. All while being conditioned to leave after a few months.
In August, a Romanian lorry driver told The London Economic why he was thinking of following in the footsteps of his colleagues and moving back to Romania to work across Europe.
Viorel Alexandru Onu, who used to work as a lorry driver across the continent for a firm in his native Transylviania, Romania, said his previous work conditions were better than the ones he had in the UK.