This week, fast food chain McDonald’s made a definite announcement in the UK: it had run out of resources to produce a milkshake in 1,250 units across the country.
But this news is a sign of a bigger problem: the UK supply chain crisis.
It is estimated that the transport sector alone will have to fill about 100,000 vacancies to meet the existing demand in the country.
It also warned that if the government did not do something about it, there would be a shortage in most supermarkets.
It’s not just the Department of Transportation: the British Independent Meat Producers Association this week told the Ministry of Justice to increase the quota of prisoners allowed to be employed in meat processing to meet its needs.
They argue that there are about 14,000 vacancies that they cannot fill.
“It is difficult in the industry to find people to fill these vacancies. Many of our associates have hired prisoners with special permission, but that is not enough,” Tony Gutzer of the association told The Guardian.
“The ministry told us they have a lot of demand and we have already reached the quota of prisoners who can hire us,” he added.
But what is the cause of this crisis?
Brexit may be part of the right storm response to the UK exit from the European Union and the Govt-19 epidemic.
Brexit and Govt-19
To understand the problem, we can focus on the most affected sector: transportation.
In early August, the Road Hole Association (RHA) issued a warning: 100,000 truck drivers are needed to meet market demand.
The UK lifted all restrictions imposed by the epidemic, and the economy began to function again, but when the demand for orders was met, problems began.
There are many reasons why the shortage is so serious. First, Covit-19 contains part of the epidemic responsibility.
Much of the economy stalled as travel was heavily banned last year, with many European drivers returning home.
Very few of the transport companies signaled a return.
In addition, the epidemic caused major delays in the tests that drivers of heavy vehicles take to obtain a license, making it impossible to have enough new drivers behind the wheel.
The carrier unions sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June, saying 25,000 people had made fewer choices than the previous year.
Before the epidemic changed everything in March 2020, Brexit came into effect a few months ago – that kind of difficulty was already beginning to manifest itself.
According to the same transport associations, Brexit was one of the reasons why many European citizens’ drivers decided to return to their home countries or work elsewhere.
When the UK was part of the EU’s common market, drivers could come and go as they wished.
But the border bureaucracy imposed after Brexit made it very difficult for most of them to get in and out of the UK – and they wanted to work in European home countries.
As mentioned, drivers are paid by the mileage rather than the hour – so delays cost them money.
Driver Shona Hornet says the hourly issue pushes some new drivers.
“A lot of people will say that money is not enough for work. I have no problem with money, but the key time to calculate it is hours,” he tells the BBC.
And labor shortages occur in other sectors for similar reasons.
For example, the British Poultry Council has warned that one in six jobs, nearly 7,000 vacancies, will go unfilled due to the return of workers from the EU.
And this situation can affect the chance of the turkey at Christmas, which is the staple food of celebration in many British homes.
Not only did meat processors have to hire inmates and ex-offenders to meet this year’s demand, but the hospitality industry was having trouble getting staff for its businesses.
We are talking about the third largest private sector employer in the UK.
According to the National Statistics Office, there were about 102,000 jobs in the sector as of June, an increase of 12.1% compared to 91,000 in the same period of 2019.
Now, the analysis done by experts is that the outcome of Brexit and Govit-19 epidemics in this area is of a different nature: people who stopped working in this field felt that other jobs earned better, not returned.
“Brexit and the epidemic have certainly affected the business, but the truth is, salaries in the hotel and restaurant industry have not been good for many years,” Manchester hotel manager Matt Sheals-Jones told the BBC.
“Workers who left the industry during Govt-19 realized that‘ the grass on the other side is a little greener ’, after finding vacancies with better pay and fewer hours of work in other jobs,” he adds.
The government’s response
Urgent measures were taken to avoid shortages, especially in relation to the transport sector.
The British government has announced a relaxation of working hours for drivers, which means they can increase the daily driving limit from nine hours to 11 hours twice a week.
“This will allow drivers of heavy vehicles to travel a little longer,” a government spokesman said.
The temporary extension of the drivers ’trip will last until October 3rd.
The government also announced that it would take steps to expand the training program in the country’s prisons on sectors such as meat and poultry.
The program allows inmates to train up to 35 hours a week in professionally managed prison kitchens.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said it “supports all sectors with a shortage of qualified personnel everywhere.”
“Helping inmates find work during their sentence and reduce their chances of being convicted again after their release.”
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