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Why eastern European truckers are not planning to return to the UK

After working as a truck driver in the UK for 14 years, Zsolt Gabor unlocked at the end of March and returned to Hungary forever.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the situation became intolerable. Brexit There is a shortage of at least 90,000 truck drivers in the UK, revealing a growing supply chain problem.

Gabor said Shortage of drivers, And the problem of trying to find a flight back to Hungary due to pandemic restrictions meant that his last shift in the UK lasted three months and was only a mandatory minimum break. .. He never rested for more than 45 hours.

At the height of the pandemic, his heavy-duty taxi was his home. The last straw came when a police officer ordered him to be returned to the truck because of blockage restrictions. “I wasn’t even allowed to take a walk at the end of the shift,” he said. With a bad back and a family waiting in Hungary, Gabor decided he had enough.

Logistics UK, a trade association of carriers, said the UK had a chronic shortage of drivers for many years, but the problem is now serious. Industry leaders are urging the government to add heavy-duty truck drivers to the missing profession list. This exempts foreign carriers from post-Brexit immigration regulations and bans employment.

Zsolt Gabor of Hungary, who worked as a truck driver for 14 years, quit at the end of March and returned home.

The government has not completely ruled out taking action, but at the end of last month, Kwasi Kwaten, Business Secretary, I have written He pointed out that foreign workers offered only “short-term, temporary solutions” to business leaders who encouraged them to hire UK-based workers instead.

Even if the exemption is granted Leaving the UK I’ll be back soon. The Financial Times spoke with dozens of Eastern European HGV drivers who previously worked in the UK but worked elsewhere.

Many cite a similar story of poor working conditions for resignation, but other reasons include low wages exacerbated by tax reform known as IR35.

Add to that Brexit. For truck drivers, which means endless paperwork such as customs clearance and border queues. The need to take the British driver exam is almost always a less hostile attitude towards foreigners in the UK, with no language skills.

In addition, there is a shortage of truck drivers across Europe. Zsolt Barna, CEO of Waberer’s, one of the largest carriers in Eastern Europe based in Budapest, said:

Barna pointed out that some EU member states are proportionally worse than the UK. Romania has long been the UK’s leading trucking company, with a shortage of 20,000 drivers out of a population of 20 million.

For EU drivers who left the UK but still have the right to live back in the UK, the higher wage outlook currently offered by some UK companies was not sufficient. Many have said they have already found work elsewhere with higher wages and a better working environment.

Another Hungarian, Peter Kobex, lasted for two years in England. After inheriting his family’s farm, he planned to come to the UK to make money to reinvest in the business and stay longer. But after his experience, he said nothing would seduce him.

Zsolt Barna CEO of Waberer’s, one of the largest carriers in Eastern Europe © Zsolt Nyulaszi

“They bullied us while the drivers continued to come,” Kobex said. “Now they are begging us.” After saving £ 60,000, he decided to go home, even though he was below his goals. “I will never return. I like England, it’s a great country, I’ll take my family there someday, but how they treat people to work? Never again.”

Krzysztof, who did not reveal his family name, worked in the UK for four years before returning to Poland in 2020. His wife became pregnant and they decided to raise their child in their hometown.

He is currently driving trucks in Poland and Germany and has no plans to return to the UK forever, even if the wages are good. He said the IR35 was the last straw for him and many Polish drivers he knew.

“From what I know, many drivers are back [to Poland] They could no longer work as independent contractors.Most people I know [in the UK] I want to come back and invest their money in Poland, “he said.

In contrast, after living in the UK for eight years, where he worked primarily in warehouses, Jakub Burzykowski intended to return after returning to Poland to obtain an HGV license.

“Wages [of truck drivers] It’s great in the UK and there was a shortage of drivers so there should be no problem finding a job, “he said.

However, returning earlier this year, he was denied entry and deported due to confusion over his right to work in the UK, known as the EU’s eligibility for settlement. He is currently working in Germany. “Why do Polish drivers choose the UK over Germany? Simplified visa procedures. From what I read, there was some pressure on the UK government to simplify it, but they Said no. “

He added: “I really wanted to work in the UK. I have some friends and a part of my family lives in the UK … I miss it.”

Dan Meyers, managing director of transportation for XPO Logistics in the United Kingdom and Ireland, has asked the government to reconsider adding heavy truck drivers to the missing profession list. “As a short-term interim solution, it’s a wise and practical method,” he said.

The introduction of the IR35 tax reform is considered to be the last straw for many Polish drivers © Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

However, Kieran Smith, CEO of Driver Require, the hiring agency, disagreed. “If we work on the basis of recalling foreign workers as a solution, we’re heading in the wrong direction,” he said, with 300,000 people holding HGV licenses but quitting. He said it was better to focus on pulling back some of the British.

At the start of the pandemic, he pointed out data from the National Bureau of Statistics, which showed that about 40,000 of the UK’s 300,000 truck drivers were from the EU. By the end of March 2021, that number had halved to about 20,000, but since April it has returned to about 5,000.

ONS also discovered that 50,000 UK-based drivers, primarily those over the age of 45, have quit their jobs since the pandemic began. I realized they didn’t want to go back to it at their age, “he said.

For Gabor, his decision to stop trucking pushed him back to recruiting drivers in Hungary after his former British employer asked him for help in finding a replacement. Eventually, post-Brexit immigration regulations led his agency, RightDriver, to focus on Ireland.

He has begun using drivers in non-EU Balkan countries, including Serbia and North Macedonia, and said they could work in the UK if they couldn’t work in Ireland. “They will already need to lift the restrictions.”

Additional report by Harry Dempsey

Why eastern European truckers are not planning to return to the UK Source link Why eastern European truckers are not planning to return to the UK

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