Vital logistics workers should be excluded from restrictive immigration policy,

Vital logistics workers should be excluded from restrictive immigration policy, says FTA

The Government’s proposal to bring forward restrictions on EU migrants deemed to be ‘low-skilled’ will worsen the severe labour shortage in the logistics sector, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

It follows recent reports which suggest that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is set 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.  

FTA, which represents more than 18,000 logistics businesses in the UK, is calling on the Government to reconsider its approach and realise how reliant the industry is on EU workers. 

FTA said these vital workers must be welcomed during the post-Brexit transition period to ensure the sector can continue operating,  

Sally Gilson, Head of Skills Policy at FTA, explained: “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 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.”