08 September 2017

Christmas Could be Cancelled for Some Says Freight and Logistics Lobby  

Leaked Home Office Paper Banning Migrant Workers Gets Frosty Reception

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Shipping News Feature UK – EUROPE – It seems Britain may be in for the 'Battle of Brexit' as things hot up with a war of words erupting this week after the leak of several EU papers which outline just what the attitude of the Brussels negotiating team is. Like a spurned lover many of the points covered simply blame the situation on the UK–s desertion, putting the blame for any and all problems on the escapee. Britain, for example, is told that it has full responsibility for resolving the Irish border situation. However it is a leaked UK document that has stirred up the freight and logistics community.

The 82 page Home Office document says the UK will end free movement of labour for any but ‘skilled’ workers immediately upon officially exiting the EU, making British jobs for residents a priority. This simplification is not welcomed as a useful attitude by many of the industries which currently rely on EU labour and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said it will be making a submission to the Migration Advisory Committee on the reliance of the logistics sector on EU workers. This is the review commissioned by the Home Secretary to better understand the consequences of ending migration from the EU to the UK.

The FTA emphasises that the logistics industry depends on EU workers to keep moving. And the busiest time of year for the movement of goods is, not surprisingly, the run up to Christmas. EU workers account for 13% of HGV drivers and 26% of warehouse operatives, part of a logistics industry that employs 2.54 million people and delivers a £121 billion Gross Value Added contribution to the national economy. James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy Chief Executive, points out:

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

“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 a more general disrespect for the great value they bring to our economy and society. 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.”

The FTA Policy and Compliance Unit has published its own manifesto for Brexit ‘What does logistics need to make a success out of Brexit?’ which, whilst praising many of the current EU induced rules and, as well as making the obvious points on free trade, calls for adjustments to commercial driving management courses separating once more the European and British certificate of professional competence (CPC) requirements.

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