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The UK government’s fast-track visa program for foreign poultry workers may be too limited, too late to avoid food shortages, an industry group said on Monday.
The post-Brexit government’s immigration and trade policies “risk crippling British food security”, and longer-term solutions are needed, said British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths.
The announcement of a temporary visa program for 5,500 poultry workers and 5,000 truck drivers for the three months leading up to Christmas is “a positive step in the right direction,” he said in a statement.
“However, there is a risk that this intervention will come too late,” Griffiths warned.
“Supply chains cannot simply be turned on and off, so production plans are already well advanced and the reductions needed due to ongoing labor shortages have already been made.”
Partly because of government restrictions on EU workers after Brexit, Britain faces a serious staff shortage in key sectors.
Fuel pumps have dried up as panic buying drains fuel station tanks, after energy companies couldn’t find enough drivers to make deliveries last week.
The government said it did not “currently” consider enlisting army reservists to drive tankers.
“But as a responsible government, we are taking the necessary preparatory steps if further action is needed,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Trade groups warn of turkey and toy shortages this Christmas and say the three-month visa program falls far short of what is needed.
“In the short term I think it will be a dead end,” Edwin Atema of the Dutch union FNV, which represents truck drivers across Europe, told BBC radio.
“So more is needed, and I think the EU workers we are talking to will not go to the UK on a short term visa to help the UK out of the shit they have them. themselves created. “
© 2021 AFP