© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Song
It is no secret that the UK was immediately confronted with a cascade of severe crises – from a wild rise in electricity prices and bankruptcies of energy companies to shutdowns of chemical plants and a banal trade deficit.
The reason for the latter is associated primarily with a severe shortage of truckers. Moreover, if at the beginning of summer the shortage was 70 thousand drivers, then by autumn it had grown to one hundred.
Now the British government has initiated the distribution of 10.5 thousand three-month work visas, of which five thousand are driving, to smooth out the crisis of empty shelves around Christmas. True, it is still unknown what will come of this: not everyone is ready to go through the bureaucratic-counter-circular circles of hell even for the promised salary of six thousand pounds – they will be able to receive it for as long as 90 days. Many say they “don’t want to move for just three months to make it easier for the British to organize their vacation.”
However, the issue is not really limited to the UK alone. The island’s goofy governance, coupled with the aftermath of Brexit, has simply exacerbated and accelerated the crisis, clearly demonstrating what other countries may face for the foreseeable future: truckers are becoming a global shortage.
A study by the International Road Union (IRU) showed that after the shortage of professional drivers narrowed in 2020 due to covid restrictions, it should sharply worsen again in 2021.
Moreover, earlier the problem was most acute in the countries of the “golden billion”. For example, in Germany there is no longer enough 45-60 thousand drivers, and the deficit is only growing. The picture is even darker in Poland, where there is a shortage of more than 120,000 drivers, largely due to the fact that many of the locals have left to mitigate the deficit a little further west. All in all, the shortage of drivers in Europe is estimated at 400 thousand. In North America, the situation is a little better. Nevertheless, in the United States today there is a shortage of 60 thousand drivers, and in Canada the figure is close to 40 thousand.
But now the problem is starting to spread to the rest of the world. According to the forecasts of the aforementioned IRU, the deficit of professional drivers in Russia and Turkey in relative terms (as a percentage of the total) could exceed the European one already this year. And in Uzbekistan and similar countries, their shortage should have been even greater than in Russia and Turkey. However, the predictions were apparently made without taking into account the circumstances associated with the complication of border crossing and employment due to the pandemic. That is why the “driver’s” crisis has so far fully covered Britain and is preparing to spread to continental Europe. But ultimately, it will inevitably affect other countries as well.
It cannot be said that the problem appeared yesterday: the lack of drivers (and people of other working specialties) in Europe was seriously thought about decades ago. In principle, all attempts to liberalize the European labor market (that is, the admission of labor resources to it from developing – first of all, neighboring – countries), the enlargement of the European Union and even the Kiev Maidan were partly associated with attempts to stop this problem. And to some extent it even worked out.
But then a pandemic came and confused all the cards. And it’s not just the complication of border crossing, although this has become a serious problem. Along with her, others appeared. For example, it took a lot more so-called last mile suppliers — people delivering goods directly to their homes. This service was actively developing by itself, but the pandemic and related restrictions spurred the process and diverted part of the workforce, which could be engaged in more serious transportation, to this direction.
Another problem is the insane distribution of money by the governments of developed countries to their citizens. The number of recipients of “helicopter” money in North America and Europe has grown significantly, and the amount they receive has also increased. Against this background, the difficult and not so highly paid profession of a driver has become even less attractive. Although her prestige began to decline much earlier: the romantic image of the Rubber Duckling performed by Chris Christofferson in the film “Convoy” is the distant seventies of the last century.
Besides, six thousand pounds promised to drivers by the British authorities is a rather arbitrary amount. For example, Ukrainian drivers, which are very popular in Europe today, are ready to work for one and a half thousand euros a month, but they often get much less in their hands, because their salaries are cut for everything: excessive fuel consumption, scratches on the body, and so on. It is clear that for that kind of money, not a single European will put a finger on his finger.
The described situation may lead to the fact that store shelves in the EU may look like British shelves this winter.
But in the future, this “disease” will inevitably be exported by Europeans to neighboring countries, and then to more and more distant countries, including, of course, Russia. And whether it will be possible to oppose something to such “export” is a big question. And of course, the problem will not be limited to drivers alone.
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