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Spanish lorry drivers serve UK stores in an unforeseen workload increase

A Spanish lorry driver who has been transporting fruits to the UK for almost 30 years said he now has to drive all the way to supermarkets because of Britain’s supply chain issues.

In an example of how EU drivers have seen their workload increasing in post-Brexit Britain but not their salaries, Rafa Soler told Spain’s El Diario that driver and fuel shortages are to blame.

He said: “I’ve been doing for three weeks what I haven’t done in the 29 years I’ve been working on this route. Usually the fruit is unloaded here [in England], in Scotland, in Wales, or wherever. We then load and go back to Spain or to France. Not anymore. Now we have to unload and then transport fruit from a major UK supermarket chain’s distribution centres.

‘Pay us extra for longer job?’

“The supermarket does not have the lorry drivers or the diesel, at the moment, to distribute its fruit. I delivered a load to Peterborough that contained pumpkins. I grabbed another [refrigerated load] and went onto London and Southampton to deliver fruit for shops there. I’ve never done that before.”

He added: “I used to come [to the UK], unload, load and go home. Now I lose a day [because of the time spent doing cabotage]. 

“I don’t know how they will pay either. Because it’s a weird deal. If this is going to continue like this, they will have to do something – pay us extra for a delivery or two, because of course the job is longer than the one from before.”

Boris Johnson’s government has consistently suggested that the post-Brexit immigration restrictions should make employers raise salaries. 

But amid a national insurance hike going against his election manifesto, as well as price hikes across sectors, Soler is not the only EU driver who spotted a mismatch between the new level of work and the pay offered. 

‘Better working conditions in the EU’

In August, a Romanian lorry driver told The London Economic why he was thinking of following in the footsteps of his colleagues and moving back to Romania to work across Europe. 

Viorel Alexandru Onu used to work as a lorry driver across the continent for a firm in his native Transylvania, Romania.

He thinks his previous work conditions were better than the ones he has in the UK. “I don’t currently have time for anything else,” he said.

He has been working as a lorry driver in the UK for nine months, having previously worked in Britain six years ago, and has delivered a variety of goods, including for supermarkets.

“I have been thinking of going back to Romania and working across the whole of Europe again because of what I am left with here versus there”, Onu told TLE.

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