Scotland's salmon sector calls for immigration flexibility to tackle labor shortages
Scotland’s farmed salmon sector is asking the United Kingdom government to introduce more flexibility in the country’s immigration system to help address staffing problems experienced by fish processors.
Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott joined the heads of four other Scottish food and drink organizations in a letter to U.K. Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice calling on him to implement the recommendations of a recent report by the U.K. Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
The recommendations include calling on the U.K. government to work with industry leaders to address labor shortages and to develop a long-term labor strategy.
The letter – signed by Salmon Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, and the National Farmers Union Scotland, warned the Scottish food and drink industry is suffering from “acute labor shortages,” and that the labor-force issue is affecting the ability of producers and manufacturers to serve customers home and abroad, thereby restricting growth and curbing exports.
“The committee makes a number of recommendations, including a call for government to work with industry to address labor shortages and develop a new, long-term strategy to ease the situation for years to come. We support the committee's recommendations and call on you and your department to deliver the step change requested by the MPs,” the letter states. “Our members have the ability to thrive and help the country recover from both the long-term effects of COVID and the additional costs of Brexit caused by non-tariff barriers. But, to do this, we need proper access to labor and this can only come with the help and support from the government.”
Scott said the joint effort is needed, and that the salmon sector is suffering from a labor squeeze that needs to be addressed.
“Fish processing, particularly in the farm-raised salmon [sector], is suffering from a labor squeeze, and we want the government to help by implementing the recommendations in the committee’s report,” he said. “Salmon Scotland believes fish processing should be added to the short-term occupation list. This would make it much easier to recruit labor from the E.U. We want to see more flexibility in the U.K.’s immigration policy, and a long-term strategy to ease this situation in the years to come.”
Photo courtesy of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO)