- Title: 'No thank you, Prime Minister', Polish trucker says to British visa offer
- Date: 28th September 2021
- Summary: NEAR WARSAW, POLAND (SEPTEMBER 28, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TRUCKS PARKED AT REST STOP OFF HIGHWAY CLOSE TO WARSAW TRUCK PARKED AT REST STOP 35-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JAKUB PAJKA, SPEAKING TO JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 35-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JAKUB PAJKA, SAYING: "No thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, I will not take advantage of this opportunity. I do not think anyone would want to relocate for three months just to help the British sort out their Christmas." VARIOUS OF PAJKA AND JOURNALIST TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 35-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JAKUB PAJKA, SAYING: "The British very often look down on us, workers from eastern Europe, with superiority. This is something we experienced very often. I think that first of all, British people should change their attitude towards people from central and eastern Europe." PAJKA AND JOURNALIST TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 35-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JAKUB PAJKA, SAYING: "I resigned from this company (agency hiring truckers to British companies) just before Brexit, as Brexit was coming into force. I resigned from this job because I did not like it, there were many problems and from a financial point of view it was not profitable enough. Several times, at the port, I witnessed the whole business of migrants being chased and how the responsibility for the mess was pushed onto the drivers or truck owners because they (border authorities) in Dunkirk or Calais were not able to control the situation themselves. Drivers did not feel safe, have a sense of security." JOURNALIST STANDING BY TRUCK (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 35-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JAKUB PAJKA, SAYING: "The money you can earn in the UK is not worth the hassle you have to deal with, all those dangerous situations. Not to mention being separated from your family. If you go to work in Britain for three months you will not see your loved ones for three months." PAJKA CLOSING CAB DOOR TRUCKS PARKED AT REST STOP 60-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JACEK REMBIKOWSKI, TALKING TO JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 60-YEAR-OLD TRUCK DRIVER, JACEK REMBIKOWSKI, SAYING: "There was a lot of uncertainty about how we will be treated in this situation, whether Brexit will shake the whole industry and whether the drivers, whether we will still be welcome. Well anyway my decision was to leave. There were also financial reasons for leaving and as for going back home, I decided it was time to settle. Now I only drive in Poland, I do not want to work abroad. Before, I used to drive across Europe from Norway to Portugal." REMBIKOWSKI TALKING TO JOURNALIST TRUCK PULLING OUT OF REST STOP VARIOUS OF VEHICLES DRIVING ON MOTORWAY
- Embargoed: 12th October 2021 17:49
- Keywords: Brexit Britain eastern European truck drivers food shortages fuel shortages shortage of truckers temporary visas
- Location: NEAR WARSAW, POLAND
- City: NEAR WARSAW, POLAND
- Country: Poland
- Topics: Europe,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001EWMW18N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: "No thank you, Prime Minister" was one Polish truck driver's reply on Tuesday (September 28) to Boris Johnson's proposal to allow foreign drivers to work in Britain on short-term visas to alleviate a lack of truckers.
A post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers - an estimated 100,000 - has sown chaos through British supply chains in everything from food to fuel has raised the spectre of disruptions and price rises in the run-up to Christmas.
The British government on Sunday (September 26) announced a plan to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers to address the shortfall, which has seen gas station pumps run dry in cities across the country.
Some Polish haulers said that offer was laughable and that few would be likely to take it up, and the German freight industry said drivers who left after Brexit would not go back.
"I do not think anyone would want to relocate for three months just to help the British sort out their Christmas," 35-year-old truck driver Jakub Pajka told Reuters.
Pajka said he thought Britons needed to "change their attitude" towards people from central and eastern Europe, and said he had stopped driving in Britain just before Brexit.
"There were many problems and from the financial point of view it was not profitable enough," he said.
Fellow driver Jacek Rembikowski, 60, said he also had stopped working in Britain and come back to Poland before Brexit.
"There was a lot of uncertainty" Rembikowski said, saying financial pressures had also helped him make the decision. He now only drives in Poland.
Ministers want businesses relying on truck drivers to pay more and offer better conditions, rather than count on cheap foreign labour.
But haulers and other businesses say that can only be a long-term fix, while in the meantime it will mean prices increasing and the risk of a prolonged rise in inflation.
The British Retail Consortium urged the government to broaden the size and scope of the visa scheme to attract the truckers needed to keep Christmas supplies on track.
(Production: Kacper Pempel, Lewis Macdonald)
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