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Boris Johnson berated by trade unions for offering visas to foreign HGV drivers | Politics | News

The Prime Minister eventually backed down from his initial reluctance to issue fresh visas by announcing 5,000 would be approved for foreign truckers. But the Telegraph reports the decision has been criticised by trade union leaders from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Unite.

The RMT, which openly urged its members to vote leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, has now suggested the Government was “importing” labour from the mainland continent.

Mick Lynch, the 59-year-old general secretary of the RMT, told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton that Boris Johnson’s administration was “going backwards” and suggested people in inner city communities were being “left behind”.

He added: “Instead, they want to bring people here from all over Europe, on poverty wages and poor terms and conditions.”

Lynch’s comrade from the Unite union, Adrian Jones, also challenged the Government’s move to introduce fresh visas.

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Mr Jones, who serves as Unite’s national officer for road transport, argued: “Kicking these issues into the long grass instead of taking decisive steps now will only create worse disruption down the line.

“Paying and treating overseas drivers differently from UK drivers is immoral and unjust and has created the problems we see today. It is discrimination and cannot be allowed to carry on.

“It will take long-term commitments and serious action from employers and government if the haulage industry is to be reformed and made fairer and more resilient.”

While the two trade unionists warned against the Government’s move, the leader of the Labour Party has suggested Mr Johnson should offer as many as 100,000 visas to truckers in Europe.

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The general secretary of the European Road Haulers Association, Marco Digioia, warned: “I expect many drivers will not return to the UK even if the UK Government allows them to.”

But the EU is also suffering from a shortage in HGV drivers.

It has been estimated that the continent is suffering from a shortage of around 400,000 haulers.

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