According to a leaked Home Office document, the majority of EU workers will be prevented from entering the UK directly after Brexit.
The document, which proposes an immediate end to the free movement of labour, has been slammed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
UK logistics hinges on the availability of foreign drivers in the run-up to Christmas. Because of this, industry bodies fear the suggested policy will strain the supply-chain almost to breaking point.
The Impact of EU Workers: Something to Mull Over
Britain is scheduled to formally part ways with the EU in March 2019. While three Christmases into the future seems far off, sector heads insist the time to address the problem is now.
As stated in the document, the new policy would stop all but the most highly-skilled mainland workers from entering the UK. As EU nationals comprise 14% of Britain’s HGV drivers, and 26% of its warehouse operatives, the deficit created by this loss of labour could take years to fill. Given also the shortage of home-grown professionals in road haulage, the situation could quickly reach crisis-level.
“Who’s going to deliver Christmas 2019 without the EU drivers and warehouse staff?” asked James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy Chief Executive. “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.”
Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has also made its position clear. It said in a statement: “The RHA calls for any decision made on immigration to be one that that does not discriminate against those with lower skills levels, and that we have a competent workforce to enable our sector to function reliably in the future.”
In an attempt to shed light on an increasingly uncertain situation, the FTA released a Brexit Manifesto. This, it hopes, will provide practicable strategies by which logistics can thrive after March 2019.