In response to rising concerns over the shortage of labour in the meat industry, Nick Allen, CEO of The British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA), has said that the the insufficient number of workers for permanent positions is reaching a critically high level.
“We’ve heard reports of plants having between 10% and 16% vacancies even before absenteeism due to Covid is factored-in,” said Allen, with reports from BMPA members that that between 5% and 10% of their workforce have been ‘pinged’ by the app and asked to self-isolate.
“Every morning, management meetings in meat plants up and down the country now start with the questions: ‘who’s turned up to work? What skills are we missing today? and how can we quickly re-arrange our production to keep the plant running?”
Things have not been made easier, said Allen, by the Government’s guidance on key worker exemptions from self-isolation is “changing hour by hour”, with the industry being given contradictory statements over the last few days which provides no help to companies wanting to plan and manage production.
He added: “If the UK workforce situation deteriorates further, companies will be forced to start shutting down production lines all together.
“So, it’s for this reason that we’ve been calling on the Government for months to add butchers to the Shortage Occupation List, which would allow the industry to temporarily fill these growing vacancies with overseas workers until the current crisis has passed.”