Meat industry labour shortages ‘will become far worse’ – SAMW

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has called on the Government to give short term visas to EU workers to support the meat industry, in an all-industry meeting with Scottish Government ministers this morning to discuss serious concerns over labour shortages.

The association said that the labour shortage is already extremely worrying, and that the situation will become worse as we move into busier meat demand periods, as SAMW member companies are operating with 10-15% fewer staff than they desire, and are just about managing to meet current demands for meat in what is a relatively quiet time of the year.”

In its comment, the SAMW said: “Even if Government acts now to address this crisis situation, it is likely that meat supplies will still be under pressure towards the end of the year.

“Clearly, we need action from Government and we need it now, a point we made forcefully to ministers this morning. Our priority request is to that we need access to EU workers to operate our businesses this year. One option is to provide such workers with short term visas – say for two years. We also need the government to include butchers, etc. on their shortage occupation list (SOL).”

On recruiting staff from the UK workforce, the Association said that its member are doing this as part of their own efforts to resolve the current crisis, but that members’ experience to date is that the skill sets required by meat processing companies are not currently available in the UK, certainly not widely available.

It added: “We are also competing for staff with many other sectors of the UK economy who are currently under-staffed, such as the hospitality sector and online businesses. Finally, training new staff to work in meat processing is at least an 18-24 month operation, a timeline which does not equate with the food needs of the country’s consumers.”

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