Trade firms condemn EU worker plans

Published: 16 October 2017

Trade firms condemn EU worker plans
The FTA gave their thoughts on proposals set out in a document leaked from the Home Office in September, the documents suggested that free movement of labour would be scrapped as soon as the UK enters Brexit, this means many EU workers won’t be able to enter the UK unless they have exceptional skills in a particular trade.

EU workers currently account for 13% of lorry drivers and 26% of warehouse operators. The association insisted that if this policy were implemented as the UK leaves the EU (if all goes as scheduled by March 2019) it could have severe implications for the supply chain network during the course of the holiday season.

 “Who’s going to deliver Christmas 2019 without EU drivers and warehouse staff?” stated James Hookham, Deputy chief executive of the FTA.

“Logistics is so important to the British economy. If we want to keep Britain trading then we need to be finding ways to solve the existing skills shortage and not exacerbating the problem. Without these proposed restrictions there’s already an acute shortage of around 30,000 HGV drivers.”

He continues “We are already starting to see an exodus of existing EU drivers because of uncertainty, the devaluation of the pound after the Brexit vote. And more general disrespect for the great value they bring to our economy and society.

“Whist we support policies that are intended to make migrants and the country better off, disrupting the logistics industry would certainly have the reverse effect. Government policy needs to be more targeted and support and protect our vital industries, such as logistics, in the interests of everyone.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) gave their own opinion on the leaked proposals, warning that they could have a “devastating effect” on trade.

“It suggest that low skilled EU workers will only be allowed to remain in the UK for two years, and that is if they pass the much stricter rules on entry” said the association.

“The RHA calls for any decision made on immigration to be one that does not discriminate against those with lower skills levels and that we have a competent workforce to enable our sector to function reliably in the future.”

A lorry driver who wants to remain nameless said "Perhaps if UK lorry drivers were treated better in the first place we wouldn't need to rely so much on foreign drivers. You can see by the survey on HGV driver shortage last year that there are issues in the industry. Yet there are thousands of UK licence holders with CPC that are choosing not the drive lorries for a living. Sort those issues out and may be we do not need to rely on drivers from outside the UK."

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