‘No thanks, Prime Minister,’ Polish trucker says to UK Christmas visa offer
WARSAW, September 28 (Reuters) – The three-month work visa offered by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for European truckers is just not a soft enough deal to convince Jakub Pajka, a 35-year-old Polish truck driver , to return to Great Britain. And he is not alone.
A post-Brexit truck driver shortage – estimated at around 100,000 – as the COVID-19 pandemic abates has wreaked havoc on UK supply chains in everything from food to fuel, a raised the specter of disruptions and price hikes in the run-up to Christmas.
The British government on Sunday announced a plan to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers in response to a severe shortage of truck drivers that has caused gas station pumps in cities across the country to dry up. Visas will expire on December 24.
Pajka, who quit his job in Britain as he left the European Union, said three months was just not long enough to make it worth it.
“No thank you, Mr Prime Minister, I will not take this opportunity. No driver wants to travel for only three months just to make it easier for Brits to organize their holidays,” he said while sitting at the wheel. of his red truck in a parking lot just outside the Polish capital Warsaw.
The extra money could not compensate for the struggle of the countries on the move, the threat posed by migrants trying to cross the Channel in the back of a truck or the separation from his family, he said. he adds.
“The money you can make in the UK does not compensate this driver for all the dangerous things that happen to him there,” he said, pointing to the scuffles with migrants he has witnessed in the ports of Calais and Dunkirk.
At another parking lot outside Warsaw, Jacek Rembikowski, a 60-year-old truck driver with 25 years of experience, also said Brexit had somewhat influenced his decision to return home after working in Great Britain. Brittany for seven years.
Despite his thirst for adventure and fond memories of driving from “Norway to Portugal”, he says he now prefers to stay in Poland.
“(There was) uncertainty as to how we will be treated in this situation,” he said. “Will Brexit change not only the industry, but also whether drivers will still be wanted.”
Reporting by Alicja Ptak and Kacper Pempel; Editing by Joanna Plucinska and Aurora Ellis
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