“Continued membership would maintain labour force” – Russell.
Staying within the Single Market is vital for securing Scotland’s future workforce, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said today.
Mr Russell visited Stoddart’s beef processing company in Broxburn, West Lothian and heard from the Managing Director about concerns over the future ability to access EU Nationals to work for the company. They also discussed concerns around continued tariff free access to the EU market for beef products, especially the Scotch Beef PGI brand.
Mr Russell said:
“A hard Brexit and the end of freedom of movement will create the very real risk that the number of people working in Scotland will fall.
“That will mean fewer tax-payers to support vital public services and many sectors of the economy will struggle to attract the workers they need.
“It is essential we remain a member of the Single Market and Customs Union. Many companies benefit from our fellow EU nationals’ work as well as having access to the world’s most lucrative market.
“The Scottish Government continue to push for continued membership, not just as part of a transition deal but as the final destination, so securing the future of our workforce and protecting access to valuable markets.”
Managing Director of Stoddart’s Grant Moir said:
“Scotland has to compete with the rest of Europe in its bid to attract people into the workplace. Following the initial Brexit announcement this has become an increasingly challenging task for many Scottish Food and Drink businesses.
“At Stoddart’s we depend on a large number of EU Nationals to make up our workforce without whom we would be unable to run our business at its current level. One third of our processing staff are non-UK EU nationals highly skilled in meat processing.
“Any restriction of freedom movement as a result of the Brexit negotiations will in my opinion be hugely detrimental to both our business and the wider Scottish Economy.
“Recruitment and retention of our EU National workers will remain our single biggest business challenge for the immediate future”
Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland, Alan Clarke, said:
“Having access to a pool of skilled labour is essential to ensure that the Scottish red meat sector can have sustainable growth. Non UK nationals are of fundamental importance throughout the red meat supply chain, especially in the processing sector, for example, in respect of statutory food safety inspection and monitoring carried out in Scottish processors, Food Standards Scotland report that around 98% of their official veterinarians are from outside the UK.”
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