Brexit foreign worker restrictions could scuttle U.K. logistics industry, FTA warns

If Brexit sends foreign workers packing, the U.K.’s freight and logistics sector could grind to a halt, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) warned today. The association is calling for clarification on the Government’s policy paper, released on Monday of this week, regarding the rights of foreign workers in the U.K. after Brexit.

“E.U. workers are crucial to the success of the U.K.’s logistics industry – and thus to the success of the nation’s economy as a whole,” said Pauline Bastidon, head of European policy at FTA. “The government needs to give careful consideration to how vacancies could be filled in the short and long term, to ensure that Britain keeps on trading, both domestically and internationally.”

The FTA’s warning follows the U.K. government’s proposal on the rights of European Union citizens residing and working in the U.K. Commenting on the proposals, Prime Minister Theresa May said that “E.U. citizens are an integral part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of our country, and I have always been clear that I want to protect their rights.”

May stressed that any agreements must be reciprocal, and that the government’s offer would, “give those 3 million E.U. citizens in the U.K. certainty about the future of their lives.” However, the FTA is now pressing for more details, given the limited time-frame and the current atmosphere of uncertainty.

According to the proposal, foreign workers who have been living continuously in the U.K. for five years will be able to apply for “settled status,” which would allow them to stay in the country indefinitely.  The FTA pointed out that clarification is still needed for the “cut off” date for arrivals to the country who have not been resident for five years, noting that, “this lack of information could have a significant impact on British business’ ability to trade efficiently in the coming months and years.”

“There is still much to be done to ensure that logistics companies are not left stranded,” Bastidon said.

EU workers currently account for roughly 13 percent of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and 26 percent of warehouse employees in the U.K.’s freight and logistics industry. With those two positions making up many of the country’s 2.54 million people currently working in the logistics sector, the government’s lack of clarity on workers’ rights could affect hundreds of thousands of workers in logistics alone, FTA warned.

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