Never Surrender: BoJo Pledges to Not Bring Back 'Low-Wage Immigration' Amid Lorry Drivers Shortage
The lack of HGV drivers in the UK has prompted a fuel crisis with long queues at filling stations that can only offer "No fuel" signs for hundreds of concerned Brits. While the government blames the truck drivers shortage on the COVID pandemic, critics argue that it was caused by Brexit and the end of free movement between the UK and the EU.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed that the shortage of lorry drivers will not force him to allow more low-paid immigration into the country.
Acknowledging that the visa system will be kept "under review", Johnson said that Brexit has provided Britain with control and he will not give it up.
"What we don't want to do is go back to a situation in which we basically allowed the road haulage industry to be sustained with a lot of low wage immigration", the PM said. "That meant that wages didn't go up and facilities, standards, and the quality of the job didn't go up".
According to him, it was "low-wage immigration" that undermined the job of HGV driver, turning people away from the industry. Now when immigration isn't flourishing the way it used to, Johnson said that "for the first time in over a decade, you're seeing wages going up around the country, and that is fundamentally a good thing".
"That's what we need. Wages are going up faster for those on the lower incomes and that is what we mean by levelling up", BoJo continued.
Salaries for lorry drivers have skyrocketed indeed
, with a trainee driver with no experience now being able to earn 24,000 pounds a year, with the figure rising up to 30,000-55,000 pounds after they gain qualification.
But the spike is largely due to how the United Kingdom is currently struggling for more HGV (heavy goods vehicles) drivers, as the country has been stricken by a fuel crisis, with at least 26 percent of petrol stations empty of fuel as of 1 October.
1 October 2021, 12:05 GMT
Last month, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer called for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be given a work visa in the UK to help tackle the fuel crisis. According to him and his supporters, the Brexit-prompted end of free movement between the European Union and the United Kingdom has caused the driver shortage.
Per the government, however, the situation with HGV drivers worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic.