Home News German election winner Scholz offers UK lesson on lorries

German election winner Scholz offers UK lesson on lorries

Published on September 27, 2021

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Monday showed little sympathy when asked about a shortage of lorry drivers in the United Kingdom that has hit fuel supplies and emptied supermarket shelves.

Scholz, whose Social Democrats (SPD) finished first in German elections on Sunday, linked the issue to the UK’s decision to leave the EU and said: “We worked hard to convince the British not to leave the Union.”

Britain has an estimated shortfall of about 100,000 HGV drivers amid warnings from various sectors that supplies will continue to run short.

Critics have blamed an exodus of truckers from Europe following Brexit, though this has been vigorously contested by British ministers, who insist the situation mirrors driver shortages across the EU exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, the British government announced a plan to issue up to 10,500 temporary visas for lorry drivers and poultry workers, where staffing is also tight, to ease the situation.

The short-term visas are to run from October until late December.

Scholz added that low wages in the sector could make jobs less appealing and explain the lack of lorry drivers.

“If you understand that being a trucker is something which many people really like to be, and you find not enough, this has something to do with working conditions,” the Social Democrat said.

Scholz stands a good chance of succeeding Angela Merkel as German chancellor after a strong election result for the SPD, but will have to build a coalition with other parties to secure the top job.