Dutch Union boss says EU drivers not interested in short-term UK visa offers


The head of a Dutch truckers’ union on Monday sent a clear message to the UK as it seeks foreign truckers to make up for its shortage of drivers: no thanks.

“The EU workers we talk to will not be going to the UK on a short-term visa to help the UK out of the [expletive] they created themselves,” said Edwin Atema, head of research and enforcement at the Netherlands-based union FNV, which represents drivers across the European Union.

In an interview on BBC Radio, Atema criticized the UK scheme as a “dead end” and that it would take a lot more to save its trucking business. When asked if the high salary London is prepared to offer foreign drivers is an incentive, Atema argued that it was not enough.

“Drivers need a lot more than a visa and a payslip,” he said, noting that foreign drivers would be subject to what he said were poor working conditions in the UK in under the visa regime.

Under Whitehall’s proposed visa scheme, up to 5,000 foreign drivers would receive short-term visas that would allow them to stay until Christmas Eve. Atema points out that drivers would be forced to find their own accommodation on days off and has criticized UK authorities for not doing enough to enforce their own labor regulations which protect workers.

In the UK, there are fears that a continued shortage of lorry drivers could lead to shortages of food and other goods ahead of the winter season. This shortage is also compounded by an energy shortage which is compounded by panic buying from frightened consumers. Several energy companies have already ceased operations because of the situation, and London is launching the idea of ​​state-guaranteed loans to save the industry from collapse.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has floated the idea of ​​using British military service members to fill the shortage of lorry drivers. No final decision on calling up the army has been made, but ministers have not ruled it out.

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