Christmas will ‘grind to a halt’ without EU workers

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Christmas at risk of ‘grinding to a halt’ without migrant workers, claimed a warehouse equipment supplier
Christmas at risk of ‘grinding to a halt’ without migrant workers, claimed a warehouse equipment supplier

Related tags Immigration Large goods vehicle

Christmas 2017 could be under threat of ‘grinding to a halt’ if there is a lack of migrant workers to process orders, warned a warehouse equipment supplier, while the Freight Transport Association (FTA) highlighted the danger of the lack of EU workers after Brexit.

The decrease in EU workers could lead to a shortage in staff at warehouses over Christmas, warned warehouse equipment supplier Pallet Trucks UK.

Md Phil Chesworth said: “The pound has fallen lower and lower against the euro and overseas workers simply don’t want to work in the UK anymore.

“Plenty of temporary warehouse staff that are taken on for the Christmas rush are from overseas, and a lack of workers could mean that Christmas this year grinds to a halt.”

Pallet Trucks warned that the lack of staff would mean mistakes would be more and more common, leading to angry customers and plunging profits.

Plunging profits

Warehouses have the chance to put a plan into action now about how they will deal with staff shortages, before their competitors do,”​ continued Chesworth.

“They could offer more benefits, extra training, or more guaranteed jobs after Christmas, but those who don’t do anything will feel the strain.”

However, recent proposals set out in a leaked Home Office document last week​ would prevent all but the most highly-skilled workers from entering the EU, according to the FTA.

The FTA’s deputy chief executive James Hookham warned that there had already been an “exodus of existing EU drivers”, ​thanks to the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote.

“Who’s going to deliver Christmas 2019 without the EU drivers and warehouse staff?”​ said Hookham. “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.

‘Existing skills shortage’

“Without these proposed restrictions there’s already an acute shortage of around 30,000 heavy goods vehicle ​[HGV] drivers.”

EU workers account for 13% of HGV drivers and 26% of warehouse staff in the UK.

The FTA planned to make a submission to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the reliance of the UK logistics sector on EU workers. The MAC is carrying out a review commissioned by the home secretary, in order to better understand the consequences of ending migration from the EU to the UK.

Hookham added: “Whilst 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.”

Meanwhile, the number of migrant fruit pickers working in the UK should either stay the same or increase after Brexit​, according to a new survey of voters who backed Britain’s exit from the EU.

Related topics Supply Chain

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