‘We’re on fire’ says Welsh haulier facing worst driver shortage in 50 years due to Brexit

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A leading haulage group based in Wales has pleaded for help over the worst driver shortage the company has seen in its 50-year history, and says Brexit is to blame

“The driver situation is in crisis, it’s a problem that has been smoking for a number of years and now we are on fire,” said Ian Owen, managing director of Owens Group.

The Llanelli -based company’s warning comes after supply issues alongside the ‘pingdemic’ have badly affected supermarket chains.

Read more : We went to Welsh supermarkets to see how bad the supply problems really were

“The driver situation is now on fire, we are on fire and need help in the industry. We’ve been dealing with the issue for months and it’s been deteriorating. There needs to be governmental support in the short term whilst we look at trying to resolve the issue in the long term,” said Mr Owen.

“Brexit has meant a lot of European HGV drivers can earn more money elsewhere and we have had a lot contact us to say they are leaving and not returning. It’s meant we have had to look at promoting within; driver apprenticeships, and promoting warehouse workers and van drivers to HGV.

“We’re trying everything in our power to get more people in the industry and it’s not enough” added the 45-year old.



The company says it is its worst driver shortage in 50 years

The ‘pingdemic’, which has seen many workers involved in the supply chain forced to self-isolate after being pinged on their NHS app that a close contact has Covid, alongside lorry driver shortages generally, many said to have been caused by Brexit, has left supermarket chains with empty aisles and seen shops closing across the country. Find out why supermarket shelves are empty here.

Co-op is one of the chains which has been running low on products.

A spokesperson for the Co-op said: “We are sorry that we are running low on some products. Like many retailers, we are impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries and store operations but we are working closely with our suppliers to get re-stocked quickly.”



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The Welsh Retail Consortium is urging the government to make adjustments to help fight the ‘pingdemic’

“To ease the supply chain issues and ensure retailers can continue to keep shelves stocked, the government should ensure those double vaccinated or showing a negative Covid test can continue to work,” said a spokesman.

Regarding the issue, the Welsh Government said today that it would not be following England in exempting some critical workers from Covid isolation rules.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are intending to remove the requirement for people who have been fully-vaccinated to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. These changes will come into effect during the next 21-day coronavirus review cycle, which starts on August 7.

“We are working closely with partners to assess the risks and possible impacts of self-isolation on critical services and any mitigation that might be needed. Until any changes are introduced, it is essential that anyone who is asked to self-isolate does so.

“Everyone who has symptoms of coronavirus or who tests positive for coronavirus will also continue to be required to self-isolate – no matter how old they are or whether they have been vaccinated or not.”

Find out about traffic and travel issues where you live:

Owens Group said it had been promoting a warehouse to wheels programme to help create more lorry drivers for the future.

“The measures we are taking will help us in the long term but it’s the short term we need help with. It’s an absolute catalogue of a perfect storm, everything that could go wrong has been going wrong” added Mr Owen.

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.

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