UK freight industry needs urgent clarification on European workers

Written by Ellie

Britain’s freight and logistics sector could grind to a halt without workers from the European Union.

That’s according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which is urgently calling on the government for clarification on timings for the introduction of new workers’ rights after Brexit negotiations begun in Brussels recently.

The group is also petitioning the government to ensure that the application process for EU citizens is as seamless as possible, with the hope of avoiding a shortfall of available skilled staff that would result in delays in services.

EU workers currently make up 13 per cent of HGV drivers and more than a quarter of warehouse operatives across Britain’s freight and logistics industry.

With around 2.5 million people working in the UK logistics sector, losing this proportion of workforce would have a catastrophic effect on the British economy, the FTA claims.

A policy paper released by the UK government on Monday (26 June) provided a solid starting point for the rights of these workers to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

However, Pauline Bastidon, the FTA’s head of European policy, believes much still needs to be done to ensure that logistics companies are not left without the required skilled workforce to keep Britain’s trade moving nationwide.

“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,” she commented.

“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.”

While government proposals would let workers who have been living continuously in the UK for five years stay in the country indefinitely through ‘settled status’, clarification is still needed for the cut-off date for arrivals to the country who have been residents for less than five years.

Molly Benton, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, adds: “This lack of confirmation has the potential to negatively impact the ability of British businesses to trade efficiently and the government should act to clarify the cut-off date for sub-five-year residents.”

Posted on 29th June 2017

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