The Road Haulage Association understands that leaving the EU will end the free movement of people between the UK and mainland Europe but is very concerned that Government risks wrapping business in red tape and over-restricting the movement of labour needed by businesses.
Commenting, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “UK haulage operators, employing foreign drivers are making a massive contribution to the economy – they’re helping to move 98% of our food and agriculture!
“The use of an arbitrary limit-based on wages to limit movement of labour is badly mistaken for our sector and many others.” The RHA is arguing for an arrangement to enable fully-qualified HGV drivers to work in the UK then the supply chain on which the manufacturing and foodstuff industries rely will suffer. Richard Burnett warns: “The effects will not be gradual – they will be immediate.”
He believes if the Government is determined not to allow qualified non-UK HGV drivers to work in the UK then it is essential that they maintain the haulage industry’s efficiency and provide the funding that is so desperately needed to redress the HGV driver balance. The Government’s announcement today honouring all EU citizens who are here already is not sufficiently clear and some staff are already leaving because of that lack of clarity. This means our industry’s driver shortage is actually getting worse and with no support for our sector it’s set to get worse in the short term, as those who are leaving may not return.
“We are deeply concerned that if no exemptions are granted and no funding to train our own workforce is provided, then the wheels of the industry that puts food on the shelves and facilitates manufacturing output will, quite simply stop.”
The RHA has noted that there are plans for an exemption for seasonal agricultural workers, but what about those in other sectors that rely on a foreign workforce all year round – the operators of half a million UK-registered trucks?