In the wake of a shortage of truck drivers that sparked a frenzy of panic buying in Britain, farmers are now warning of a new shortage of butchers and slaughterhouses that could result in the culling of up to 150,000 pigs.
The warning comes as many stations remain without fuel today, Friday, after a chaotic week that saw panic buying, fistfights in station yards, and drivers hoarding fuel in water bottles, as supply chains reached their breaking point under the weight of a shortage of truck drivers.
The winds of chaos swept some economic sectors due to lack of labor in the wake of Britain’s exit from the European Union and the Corona pandemic, fuel and medicine deliveries were disrupted, and 150,000 pigs were crammed into farms awaiting fate, either slaughter or execution.
Although British ministers confirmed days ago that the crisis is on the way to receding or has already ended, retailers say that more than 2,000 gas stations are still completely empty of fuel. Reuters reporters across London and southern England said dozens of stations were still closed.
Queues of angry motorists extended again in front of gas stations that are still open in London.
“I’m absolutely fed up. Why is this country not ready for anything?” said Atta Oryakhil, a 47-year-old taxi driver from Afghanistan, whose car was first in line in a long line of more than 40 cars.
“When will (the crisis) end? … the politicians are unable to do their jobs properly. The government should have prepared for this crisis. It’s all about incompetence and nothing else,” Oryachil added.
The man explained that he lost about 20% of his normal earnings this week, because he was spending time waiting for fuel instead of waiting for customers.
The Gas Station Owners Association said that its members reported, today, Friday, that 26% of stations are free of fuel, 27% have only one type of fuel in their tanks, and 47% have enough gasoline and diesel.
For their part, ministers say the truck driver shortage is a global crisis, and they are trying to alleviate it in Britain. Ministers deny that the current situation is the result of the exodus of European Union workers after Britain’s exit from the bloc, and they deny doubts about the country’s direction towards a “winter of anger” over shortages and blackouts.
Despite the shortage of drivers in other countries, the member states of the European Union have not experienced a shortage of fuel.
Britain’s pig farming sector appealed to retailers to keep buying local pork, not cheaper EU products, and said businesses would go bankrupt and livestock would be culled if producers did not get immediate subsidies.
Slaughtering has been declining by 25% per week since August, after the pandemic and post-Brexit immigration rules combined to deal a blow to an industry already struggling to find labour, leading to a severe shortage of butchers and slaughterhouse workers.
The National Pig Sector Association said that despite attempts to persuade the government to relax immigration rules, efforts appeared to have reached a dead end.
Britain recently made amendments that allow some foreign workers to enter for a period of 3 months to drive trucks and fill gaps in the poultry sector.