Freight Transport Association (FTA) Chief Executive David Wells has told Transport Secretary Chris Grayling that EU workers are as vital to the logistics industry as they are to the NHS and construction sector.
Mr Wells met the Mr Grayling to outline the Association’s priorities to ensure Britain’s businesses stay competitive post Brexit. FTA has more than 15,000 members who transport goods by road, rail, sea and air – many of whom trade with Europe.
Mr Wells highlighted existing labour shortages in the transport industry – not only of drivers but also forklift operators and warehouse staff – and told Mr Grayling that EU nationals made up 11% of the total workforce in the sector.
Mr Wells said the shortages meant British firms would need to retain existing EU workers and continue to recruit from outside the UK – currently there are 31,500 EU nationals working as drivers in the UK.
Mr Wells told the Secretary of State it was vital that any new trade arrangements did not add red tape or make British goods more expensive. He also addressed access to the Single Market and border controls, saying cross-Channel and cross-border security could bemost effectively maintained by retaining borders checks in Calais.
After the meeting, Mr Wells said: “For FTA members it’s vital to keep Britain trading and ensure that their businesses remain competitive in the European market. It’s a period of great uncertainty but there is much the Government can do to bolster confidence in British businesses.
“The Transport Secretary took FTA members’ concerns on board and said he would press for tariff-free trade and endeavour to make the movement of goods as easy as possible.”