Worker shortages after Brexit have left U.K. service stations empty, created gaps on supermarket shelves, and even the finance industry is starting to suffer.
Farmers, bankers, shopkeepers, transporters, and restaurateurs have all warned in recent weeks that new immigration laws enacted after the United Kingdom left the European Union are making it difficult for them to hire personnel and keep their businesses afloat. Supermarkets are having trouble keeping certain commodities stocked, and McDonald’s has temporarily suspended serving milkshakes. Farmers are saying that there won’t be enough turkeys for Christmas because meat processors can’t keep up with demand.
According to industry executives, if the British government does not soften its Brexit immigration laws this winter, the situation will become much worse. The banking sector is requesting that the government simplify things for workers to come to the U.K. for brief periods of time. It also wants the government to collaborate with other countries to make it easier to cross borders.
A shortage of tanker drivers led some gasoline stations to close this week, highlighting the magnitude of the crisis facing U.K. employers. Panic buying by British motorists resulted in widespread gasoline shortages that lasted for days.
Life after Brexit
When the UK was a member of the European Union, which enabled free movement of people within the bloc, it was very simple for companies to attract European labor. Following Brexit, the United Kingdom adopted an immigration system that prioritizes government-designated “high-skilled” workers. Industries are now actively lobbying the government in the hopes of being included on the government’s list of skilled people.
The hospitality business, which has been rocked by coronavirus quarantines, social distance rules, and high levels of anxiety, now faces the risk of a reduced workforce during the critical holiday season.
The British government said earlier this week that up to 5,500 temporary visas for poultry workers would be issued. However, the intervention may be too late to prevent product shortages in the fall and winter.