Will the British logistics sector have access to EU workers after Brexit?

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Will the British logistics sector have access to EU workers after Brexit?

On August 23rd the government’s No-Deal Brexit papers were published. Unfortunately, the information provided is very general and the amount of detail is not sufficient for businesses to plan ahead, e.g. on market access for road haulage. Most importantly, it is still not clear whether the logistics sector will have access to EU workers.

No deal would be disastrous for logistics. While preparing for every eventuality, including a no deal position, is a sound strategy, it should not be the end game which negotiators accept.  There are clear problems which could face our supply chain if agreements cannot be reached including customs and border arrangements, the continuity of trade agreements and vehicle permits, as well as the continuation of business access to EU workers. Solutions for these areas are key to the continued success of British business, both at home and abroad, after 29 March 2019,” says Sarah Laouadi, European Policy Manager at Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The latest data published by the British Office of National Statistics are alarming and the FTA is urging the officials to act. If the UK does not have an access to seasonal workers from the EU the supply chain is „set to disintegrate,” reports MotorTransport.co.uk.

What if the EU workers leave the UK after Brexit?

The latest figures estimate that there are in excess of 43,000 lorry drivers from the EU working for British firms, with hauliers now “heavily dependent” on a continued influx of overseas drivers to keep them going. In addition, about 30,000 van drivers and 113,000 warehouse workers from across the English Channel are employed in the UK.

The UK’s supply chain is the blood in the veins of the UK’s economy, keeping schools, hospitals and businesses stocked, shop shelves full and retailers provided with the goods they need to prosper.  Without quick progress on the key elements that FTA has outlined, the resulting disruption could have disastrous impacts for British and EU business. A no-deal agreement should only be considered once every opportunity to reach a deal has been explored. Negotiators on both sides need to keep working to ensure that Britain and the EU keep on trading, day in, day out,” says Laouadi.

Currently, there is a lack of about 52,000 truck drivers in the UK. Road Haulage Association (RHA) predicts further lorry driver shortages. According to RHA, there are 60,000 lorry drivers from Eastern Europe working for British firms. If their work permits expire after March 2019, the British companies might face a serious staff shortage.

Due to the seasonal nature of logistics, access to temporary staff is crucial and this gap has been filled by many EU workers. We know the plan for those EU workers wanting to gain settled status but not for those who come to the UK for seasonal work – the ones which businesses rely on to keep goods and services flowing,” says Sally Gilson, FTA’s head of skills for MotorTransport.co.uk.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association(RHA) warns on the organization’s Tweeter account, that Britain is facing a “no deal” scenario in which it has no terms of access into Europe. In addition, Eastern European workers, who have been “underpinning the haulage industry” in the UK, might leave due to the potential need for work permits and the weakening pound.

Photo: Flickr.com




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