The shortage crisis in the UK is not just hitting petrol stations: the problems are spreading up the supply chain and reaching slaughterhouses, which are at risk of leaving British households meatless by Christmas by the lack of manpower. The complaint this Friday from the meat sector that up to 120,000 pigs could be prematurely slaughtered due to the shortage of personnel in slaughterhouses adds to the clamor that comes from different sectors of the British economy.
Despite the fact that the Boris Johnson government insists that there are signs of “stabilization” at gas stations, which have suffered from shortages since last week, the authorities acknowledge that the problem with fuels could last at least one more week. Long lines of drivers wanting to refuel continued today, mainly in London and the south-east of the country.
The Petroleum Retailers Association, which groups together independent service stations, estimates that 26% of its members were still completely dry of fuel today, due to the lack of truckers who can transport it from the refineries. According to the director of the association, Gordon Balmer, to British media, “although the situation is similar to the last days, there are signs that it is improving, but too slowly”.
“Independent gas stations, which make up 65% of the network, are not receiving enough fuel deliveries compared to other sectors, such as supermarkets,” said Balmer, who anticipates that the queues will continue especially in the capital and the surrounding areas in the next days.
Christmas in danger
The tip of the iceberg so far has been gas stations, but shortages and shortages of labor in low-skilled jobs are also beginning to show on some empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores. Despite the fact that the shortage is not generalized, gaps are beginning to be seen in the spaces dedicated to certain products, with signs that warn customers, as Efe was able to verify, that a replacement is not expected for another ten days or two weeks.
The concern has fully reached the agri-food sector, which observes how the lack of personnel is forcing the farmers themselves to sacrifice their animals because they cannot resort to slaughterhouses, where the meat is treated and processed for later commercialization. For this reason, the British Government is considering granting some 1,000 emergency visas to foreign butchers to alleviate a shortage that threatens to hinder the supply of turkeys, hams and other typical products during the Christmas period, according to the newspaper “The Times”.
According to the same source, the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, of the “hard” wing of the Executive, opposes this measure for fear that it is a “tactic” of the companies in the sector so that in the long term it relaxes the freedom of movement of workers from the European Union (EU), very restricted since the consummation of Brexit on December 31.
The British Association of Meat Processors estimates a shortfall of about 15,000 butchers, leaving working professionals only able to focus on supplying supermarkets with basic cuts of meat and not focus on more laborious Christmas products. A Homeland spokesman, for his part, said that the Government’s intention is for “employers to make long-term investments in the UK’s domestic workforce instead of relying on foreign workers.”
“The Government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to British workers with training offers, career plans, pay increases and investment,” he added. For the pig employers, the personnel crisis has worsened in the last three weeks, which has forced producers to kill the new piglets, and a “massive slaughter” of animals in the coming weeks is not ruled out .