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Polish lorry driver says truckers won't return to UK due to 'inhumane' treatment at Manston Airport during Christmas French border closure

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A Polish haulier says the inhumane treatment of HGV drivers forced to to use the Manston Airport site during a blockade at Christmas will put many off returning to work in the UK.

The government has announced that up to 5,000 visas will be made available to foreign lorry drivers to tackle the disruption to fuel supplies.

Food is passed to lorry drivers stranded at Manston Airport
Food is passed to lorry drivers stranded at Manston Airport

Tomas Orynksi told LBC's James O'Brien he doubted there would be much take-up of the offer and one reason why was down to their experiences of being kept on the site over Christmas.

He also cast doubt on whether there would be much interest in returning to the UK because of the bureaucracy involved.

He said there were plenty of other jobs in the EU, adding: “Why would they come here [UK] and have to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops just for three months work?

“They remember the treatment they had at Manston - it was outrageous, the inhumane way they were treated... they do remember and they will think twice about coming again.”

At the time, there were complaints from some hauliers about the lack of food and washing facilities.

European lorry drivers parked at Manston Airfield Picture: RAF
European lorry drivers parked at Manston Airfield Picture: RAF

The jobs available would be likely to be offered through recruitment agencies who would take a significant chunk of their salary, he added.

Several thousand HGVs were kept for several days over Christmas and the New Year because of a decision by the French authorities to say that hauliers could only cross the channel if they had a negative test for Covid in the previous 72 hours.

It caused days of gridlock and left thousands of hauliers to be locked down and unable to continue their journeys.

Manston was brought into play as part of contingency plans.

KentOnline exclusively revealed how the site had been engulfed in controversy amid allegations of sex, drug taking and fake Covid test certificates.

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