UK Worker Shortage Threatens Christmas Turkey Supply
Godstone, United Kingdom, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 13th Oct, 2021 ) :In a dark wooden barn in the countryside of southeast England, farmer Patrick Deeley is surrounded by a throng of 600 white turkeys at feeding time.
But the typical sight at Flower Farm near Godstone, in Surrey, belies a crisis: a lack of seasonal workers that will leave Deeley struggling to meet high festive demand.
"I don't feel confident that I'll get sufficient staff to be able to do the job that I need before Christmas," Deeley told AFP. "The pressure will be on." Normally, Deeley could count on 12 seasonal workers by mid-December to help him pack, prepare and deliver the birds. For the last 15 years, he has recruited from Europe.
But Britain has now been out of the European Union for nearly 12 months. Free movement of people and workers across the bloc has ended, and tougher immigration rules have been introduced.
Like Deeley, this year he has none.
As a result, some farmers have been forced to produce fewer turkeys this year.
Supermarkets, where a shortage of lorry drivers has created delays in supply of some foods, leading to empty shelves, have also reduced their orders.
And the situation will inevitably hit consumers in the pocket.
"I think people will unfortunately have to see an increase in product costs," said Deeley.
And once toys arrive at ports, a lack of lorry drivers and warehouse staff could compound problems.
Meanwhile, the pig industry is warning about a lack of abattoir staff and butchers -- many of them also foreign workers -- spiralling production costs and falling prices.
The National Pig Association called it "the biggest crisis" in decades, and would force livestock farmers to cull their animals without them going into the food chain.
Many foreign workers went back to their home countries when the global health crisis struck and have not returned.
But farmers are concerned the visa waivers will have little effect.
"Would I leave my home, my country, my job, my security, just to come over and help out a country that said we don't want you anymore? I wouldn't do it," said Deeley.
"I see the implications now of Brexit as just huge, colossal," he explained, adding it had led to a situation where foreign workers felt "unloved".
Down on the farm, difficult months lie ahead.
"I'm going to have to persuade the people that are working for me that we're going to have to work 18-19 hours a day, instead of 16," said Deeley.