Vital logistics workers should be excluded from restrictive immigration policy
Tuesday 21 January 2020
The government’s proposal this weekend (19 January 2020) to bring forward restrictions on EU migrants deemed to be ‘low-skilled’ will worsen the severe labour shortage in the logistics sector, according to FTA. The business group, which represents all of logistics, is calling on the government to realise how reliant the industry is on EU workers and to reconsider its approach; these vital workers must be welcomed post-Brexit transition period to ensure the sector can continue operating.
Sally Gilson, Head of Skills Policy at FTA, comments: “As the only business group representing all of the logistics industry, FTA is calling on the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to urgently reconsider his proposal to impose arbitrary qualification and salary thresholds on EU migrants – which includes commercial drivers and warehouse operators – at the end of the Brexit transition period. The logistics sector is facing a severe labour shortage: 59,000 HGV drivers alone are urgently needed just to keep operations afloat. And, with the shortfall of warehouse staff anticipated to worsen over the next 12 months, Mr Johnson’s proposals will severely impact the very industry charged with keeping Britain trading: the logistics industry.”
According to the report, FTA’s Logistics Skills Report 2019, EU workers currently constitute 13% of the entire logistics workforce, and declining EU net migration has contributed to a 43% rise in job vacancies in the transport and storage industry over the past couple of years.
Within the government’s proposed scheme, due to be confirmed this week, there is likely to be provision for additional EU workers for sectors suffering from a “specific shortage” of staff, but only temporarily.
Ms Gilson continues: “FTA is calling for the government to include logistics workers – particularly warehouse operators and HGV drivers – in its provision for “specific shortages”. However, this would only provide temporary relief and so permanent allowances are needed for this vital sector.
“The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, ensuring shops, hospitals, restaurants and schools etc all receive the goods they need to operate. While businesses within the sector will do everything possible to keep Britain trading, without adequate levels of staff, operations will become strained and UK plc will suffer. As such, FTA is calling on the government to build its policies on what the economy needs to remain functional; the UK urgently needs more logistics staff, so these workers should be excluded from any restrictive EU immigration policy.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep the UK trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.