Downing Street was hoping to lure EU drivers back to the UK to fix the HGV driver shortage.
EU lorry drivers are reportedly opposed to Downing Street’s latest proposal to return to the UK after the UK created a complete HGV driver shortage.
About a third of BP petrol stations are now running empty, while some parts of the country are imposing rations and spending limits of £30.
There is not really a shortage of petrol in the UK, but a driver shortage, and so the government has introduced a three-month visa scheme for foreign drivers.
Yet Edwin Atema, head of research and enforcement at the FNV union, which represents drivers in the EU and Europe, said on Monday that foreign drivers would not be helping the UK any time soon.
BBC Radio 4 Today host Mishal Hossain asked him: “If the UK can really make a lucrative offer, perhaps it is a way to attract people back to the UK or people who have never driven in the UK Is?”
Atema replied: “The EU activists we talk to will not go to the UK for short-term visas to help the UK out of the mess it has created.”
While Atema’s words suggest that Brexit is the primary reason behind the driver shortage, it is only one of many factors involved.
The pandemic and the overall lifestyle associated with HGV driving have also contributed to the shortage of other drivers in the rest of Europe.
The head of research of the FNV union also claimed that drivers across Europe and outside Europe had completely lost faith in the HGV industry long before Covid and Brexit as it was “stricken with exploitation”.
Atema claimed: “The industry is positively regulated, but it doesn’t deserve the paper it’s written on. There’s no enforcement.
“Usage of the toilet facility is also an issue.”
He alleged that living as an HGV driver in Western Europe “goes you back a century”, adding: “Companies see drivers only as extensions of the vehicle.”
Atema also suggested that improving the salaries of HGV drivers would not solve the ongoing problem.
He added: “Yeah so in the short term I think it will be a dead end.
“I think some sort of Marshall plan would be needed to get the whole industry back to the surface.
“In the UK, there is not even a collective agreement for the entire road transport industry.
“It is still up to individual employers to compete on working conditions.
“And that is not a good sign to drag an industry back to the surface. More is needed.”
He continued: “Salary is an important area, but it is not the only area.”