The lack of transporters and workers in the primary sector leads to shortages of supermarkets and rationing in hundreds of British gas stations
Hundreds of UK petrol stations will ration fuel supplies to a maximum of £ 35 to avoid being aggravated by greed from alarmed drivers of supply problems. It is the latest manifestation of a crisis generated in part by the lack of carriers, which spreads to other sectors and has created concern about the increase in the cost of living.
British Petroleum, which owns about 1,200 service stations, has closed about twenty. In others, it has been forced to cut off the supply of some kind of fuel. The companies and the government insist that there are enough deposits in the sector chain, but the images of long lines and drivers walking towards the hoses with jerry cans feed panic.
Fed up with alarms, after his return from the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed on reluctant ministers the temporary opening of the door to immigrants, in order to fill job vacancies in the affected sectors . The new immigration law, which establishes a system for evaluating applications endorsed by companies, has been celebrated by the ‘Brexiter’ government as a great improvement with respect to free movement in the European Union.
Christmas without turkeys
The dance of figures on the lack of truckers – which affects multiple supplies – complicates the evaluation of the causes. The trucking association estimates there are 100,000 job openings. Some 20,000 community drivers would have left in 2020. Up to 50,000 Britons would have left their job unsatisfied with pay and working conditions. The government plans to issue 5,000 visas.
Labor shortages are not unique to the UK, but the new system, according to economist Jonathan Portes, substitutes demand-and-supply-based adjustments in the labor market for more centralized decisions. It contributes, according to its critics, to a delay from the job offer to the government authorization.
In recent months, agricultural companies have announced that they will reduce their fruit and vegetable crops after abandoning crops this year due to a lack of pickers. Restaurants and hotels have not reopened or are operating with limited capacity also due to lack of staff and the meat industries have warned that there will be fewer chicken products and that the same will happen with turkeys this Christmas. Another 5,000 visas would be used to fill vacancies in this sector.
The partial financing scheme for salaries during the peak phase of the pandemic – equivalent to the ERTES in Spain – will be closed this week. Both the Government and the Bank of England want to see the effect that this change has on employment to better understand the structural issues of the post-epidemic labor market.
The supply alarm coincides with the spectacular increase in the price of energy. The government has made an effort to reassure the population about the fear of power outages this winter, but does not offer palliative to increases of 60% in the bill. Such increases forced the closure of two factories of the largest producer of fertilizer – and CO2, as a by-product of the industrial process – affecting food production and freezing. The Bank of England believes inflation will hit 4% in 2022.