In a recent statement issued by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the reliance on workers from the European Union has been highlighted, as the association warns that a reduction in EU workers could signal freight and logistics sectors grinding to a halt.
Despite recent negotiations on the Brexit deal bringing to light Government policies highlighting the rights of EU workers living and working in the UK after Brexit, the FTA have stated that it has done little to clarify important details, such as timings involved for the introduction of rights for newer workers that are from the EU.
Indeed, the association is now moving towards petitioning the governments in order to make sure that the application process for EU citizens is as quick and efficient as possible. This is to ensure that there are no avoidable delays in services to the freight and logistics sectors of the haulage marketplace.
As it stands currently, 13% of all HGV drivers and 26% of warehouse operatives employed throughout the UK’s freight and logistics sectors are EU workers. With an employment base of around 2.5 million people, a reduction to EU work and living rights could cause huge rippled through the sectors, adding strain to a marketplace that’s demand is growing annually.
The FTA have stated that:
“The Government’s announcement on the rights of EU workers to remain and work in the UK is a welcome first step in enabling businesses to plan and manage their workforces,” says Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at FTA, which represents more than 16,000 businesses in the logistics sector. “But there is still much to be done to ensure that logistics companies are not left stranded, without the skilled workforce required to keep Britain’s trade moving nationwide, and across borders to other nations.”
The problem stems from a sufficient amount of homegrown workers to fill the places occupied by EU workers. With the UK’s logistics industry being one of significant importance, the FTA warns that the government need to take their time in order to come up with a detailed and extensive plan in order to make sure the UK’s economy is not compromised.
“These EU workers are crucial to the success of the UK’s logistics industry – and thus to the success of the nation’s economy as a whole. With insufficient homegrown workers currently available, the Government needs to give careful consideration to how vacancies could be filled in the short and long term, to ensure that Britain keeps on trading, both domestically and internationally.”
The FTA added:
“Whenever the new legislation is introduced, it is imperative that the Government makes the application process for those wishing to work in the UK as free from red tape as possible,” continues Bastidon. “The logistics industry needs and deserves to employ the very best candidates while it trains up the next generation of employees, and it will need Government support to ensure that the country’s trading routes do not grind to a halt when the changes are made. The Government must ensure that its post-Brexit immigration policy takes into account the needs of crucial industries such as logistics, and provide as much clarity as possible, as early as it is feasible, to allow industry to plan ahead and adapt. This advanced notice is vital to ensure that British business can keep moving, both in the UK and overseas.”
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