UK gas pumps still dry, pig slaughter fears grow

A worker directs vehicles to the front yard as they line up to refill at a gas station in London, Britain, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

  • Many gas stations remain closed – Reuters reporters
  • Britain says crisis is stabilizing
  • More than a quarter of gas stations are dry
  • Fears of pig slaughter: Farmers warn of butcher shortage
  • Pig farmers urge retailers to avoid EU pork

LONDON (Reuters) – Many British gas stations were still dry on Friday after a chaotic week of panic buying, clashes at pumps and drivers hoarding fuel in water bottles as a severe shortage of truck drivers strained supply chains to collapse. Point.

A labor shortage in the wake of Brexit and the Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc in some sectors of the economy, disrupting shipments of fuel and medicine and leaving up to 150,000 pigs spared on farms.

British ministers have been insisting for days that the crisis is waning or even ending, although retailers have said more than 2,000 petrol stations are dry and Reuters reporters across London and southern England have said dozens of pumps remain closed.

Queues of angry drivers often returned from gas stations that were still open in London.

“I’m totally sick. Why isn’t the country ready for anything?” Atta Oryakhil, a 47-year-old taxi driver from Afghanistan, was the first in a line of more than 40 cars outside a closed supermarket gas station in Richmond.

“When will it end?” said Yuryakhil. “Politicians are not able to do their jobs properly. The government should have been prepared for this crisis. It is just incompetence.”

Orajiel said he lost about 20% of his regular earnings this week because he was waiting for fuel instead of bringing in customers.

The Gasoline Retailers Association (PRA) said members reported Friday that 26% of their pumps are dry, 27% have only one type of fuel in stock and 47% have enough gasoline and diesel.

“Freelancers, who make up 65 percent of the entire network, are not receiving enough fuel shipments compared to other sectors such as supermarkets,” Gordon Palmer, executive director of the Petroleum Retail Federation, told Reuters.

Ministers say the world is facing a global shortage of truck drivers and they are working to ease the crisis. They deny the situation is the result of an exodus of EU workers after Britain leaves the bloc, and have dismissed concerns that the country is heading into a “winter of discontent” with shortages and blackouts.

Although there is a shortage of truck drivers in other countries, members of the European Union have not experienced a shortage of fuel.

After a shortage of truck drivers caused panic buying at gas stations, farmers now warn that a shortage of butchers and slaughterhouse workers could lead to the culling of up to 150,000 hogs.

Britain recently changed course to allow some international workers to come for three months to drive trucks and fill gaps in the poultry sector.

But opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said the government was not moving fast enough.

“The prime minister should take emergency measures today but again he failed to realize the severity of the crisis. If it needs legislation, let’s summon Parliament,” he said.

American pigs?

Britain’s pig industry has appealed to retailers to keep buying local pork and not cheap EU products, saying companies would go bankrupt and livestock would be culled if producers did not get immediate subsidies.

Weekly pig slaughter has fallen 25% since August after the pandemic and Britain’s post-Brexit immigration rules combined to hit an industry already struggling for workers, leading to a severe shortage of butchers and butchers.

“As a result of labor-saving issues in our pork processing plants, we currently have an estimated 120,000 pigs spared on UK pig farms that were meant to be slaughtered,” the National Pig Association said in a letter to retailers.

“The only option for some would be to slaughter pigs on the farm.”

The meat processing industry has always struggled to find enough workers, but it has been hit by the departure of many Eastern European workers who have returned home due to Brexit and COVID-19.

The pig association said that despite attempts to persuade the government to relax immigration rules, it appears to have reached a dead end.

Additional reporting by Costas Pettas, Kate Holton, James Davey and Sarah Young. Written by Guy Faulconbridge. Editing by Andy Bruce, Angus McSwan, Alison Williams and Louise Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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