NPA migrant labour survey reveals serious pig sector fears

One in five pig sector farms and businesses would struggle to survive without migrant labour warns the NPA, based on the results of an online survey which drew over 100 responses from across the industry.

The survey also showed that a further one in four businesses would have to significantly alter how they operated if the supply of migrant workers, primarily from the EU, was cut off.

Key survey findings included:

  • 58% of businesses employ at least one migrant worker, with 9% employing between 11 and 50 and 2% more than 50;
  • 12% of respondents said migrant labour accounts for between a quarter and a half of their workforce, while in 8% of cases more than half of workers employed came from outside the UK;
  • more than 90% of migrant workers referred to in the survey are employed on a full-time basis;
  • 93% come from the EU, with the remainder coming from elsewhere in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Canada;
  • 20% of respondents said their businesses would not survive at all without migrant labour, while a further 25% would be forced to make changes to how they operate;
  • 6% said they did not know what impact the migrant labour issue would have on their businesses.

NPA chairman, Richard Lister (pictured above), commented that the Government’s Brexit migration policy is likely to favour skilled workers over unskilled, a move which will not be helpful to the pig industry.

“Any schemes set up to ensure the future supply of migrant labour must encourage full-time workers to come and live in the UK, which is what the pig industry requires, rather than focus on short-term seasonal work, as previous schemes have,” he said.

NPA also said that the Brexit vote has had another more immediate effect in that the dramatic fall in the value of the pound has made the UK a less attractive place to work for overseas staff, compared with, for example, Germany.

As such, the Association “understands” some major UK processors are concerned about their ability to attract sufficient staff numbers in the run up to Christmas.

NPA policy services manager, Lizzie Wilson, added: “We will use the results of the survey to push the Government to introduce schemes that ensure EU labour continues to be available to the UK pig sector after we leave the EU.”

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