Poultry industry calls for flexible visa system to allow migrant workers in after Brexit

The British poultry meat industry has called for a system that will allow crucial workers from Europe into the UK in order to keep the nation’s farms and factories staffed/

The British Poultry Council said the industry relies hugely on the contributions and efforts of migrant workers who have a vital role in feeding the nation with safe, wholesome and nutritious food. “60% of our workforce are EU nationals – this is because of the lack of availability of UK labour in the locations we need. Our sector cannot feed the nation without access to migrant workers at all skill levels,” said BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths.

“No one who has seen our workers in action in our processing plants or on our farms can think for one second that these people are anything other than highly skilled. While we have been investing heavily on attracting UK labour, training our workforce through the new apprenticeship levy and trailblazer programmes – it would take us several years to rebalance towards UK labour.

“The British poultry meat sector is calling for a flexible visa system that allows migrant workers to come to the UK for specific roles on a semi-permanent basis. This is the least our Government can do to support an industry that takes nothing in Government subsidies and yet offers over £1 billion in tax contribution to the Exchequer.

“We are capable of scaling up production to meet the growing demand and stand committed to feeding the nation with safe, wholesome and nutritious food. Any secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and sustainability and for this to happen, we are asking our Government to commit to offering us sufficient numbers of workers, both seasonally and permanently.

“We value our professional and committed workforce and don’t want to make our migrant labour feel like they are not wanted. We need clarity from the Government on the new rules for EU nationals living and working in the UK well before free movement ends in March 2019.”

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