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Ministers blast firms for complaining about Brexit staff shortages


‘Stop whining and pay Brits more’: Ministers tell companies complaining about shortage of foreign workers to raise wages for British workers instead

  • Companies blame Brexit and Covid-19 for staff shortages in their companies
  • The government rejected complaints that urged companies to raise wages
  • The catering industry claims a shortage of more than 210,000 employees

Ministers have warned companies to raise wages rather than complain about the shortage of foreign workers.

The pandemic and Brexit have combined to create a workforce crisis in restaurants, cafes, warehouses and factories as fewer foreign workers look for work in the UK.

But companies have been criticized for offering “poverty wages” to prospective employees while lobbying for immigration easing.

Labor Minister Paul Scully, pictured, said employers in affected industries should raise wages to encourage Britons to apply for their empty vacancies

Crop pickers fly people out of the Caribbean to perform functions previously held by those of the EU.  Pictured here, seasonal workers from Romania, in September 2017 in Pulborough, Sussex

Crop pickers fly people out of the Caribbean to perform functions previously held by those of the EU. Pictured here, seasonal workers from Romania, in September 2017 in Pulborough, Sussex

Meanwhile, truck driving schools have been flooded with job applicants after retailers were forced to raise salaries to more than £50,000 amid a national deficit.

According to industry association UKHospitality, the hospitality sector is missing 210,000 employees, or 10 percent of the total workforce. And unemployment has risen to just over 1.6 million during the pandemic.

Critics have criticized bosses who expect British workers to accept low wages and harsh working conditions, which would otherwise be hired by migrant workers. Now ministers are demanding that companies raise wages and make jobs more attractive to British workers.

Labor Market Secretary Paul Scully said: ‘We want employers to invest in the UK’s domestic workforce over the long term rather than relying on labor from abroad. Companies should look at how they can make employment more attractive, including through wage increases and offering training.’

Thomas Heier, the boss of restaurant chain Wagamama, last week complained about staff shortages, despite paying a chef in London less than ‘real living wage’.

While Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium said UK workers “don’t want to fill those roles for whatever reason”. But an audit by the Daily Mail found that several companies struggling with staff shortages are advertising positions below the real living wage of £9.50 an hour outside London, or £10.85 in the capital. Prospective ‘team members’ at Pret A Manger in London receive the minimum wage of £8.91 per hour, while team leaders are paid between £10.01 and £10.35.

Caffe Nero pays all new baristas just £8.91, and McDonald’s pays £8.91 an hour or £9 in London.

Costa was forced this week to raise wages for its baristas in its cafes from a starting wage of £8.91 to £9.36 an hour as it struggled to hire 2,000 additional staff.

Wagamama, part of the £1 billion giant The Restaurant Group, is hiring kitchen porters in London for £8.96 an hour, and chefs – who will run a kitchen – for £10.45. As a result, many workers have left the industry and taken jobs in logistics as drivers for supermarkets or warehouses, which are booming thanks to the growth of online shopping.

Wages at Amazon, which is hiring 12,000 employees in the UK as part of a major expansion, start at £10 per hour and £11.10 in London. The company is trying to shake off the reputation that its warehouse workers are poorly paid and forced to work in appalling conditions.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak announced today that a massive £650 billion will be spent on major construction projects over the next ten years, supporting 425,000 jobs annually.

Crop pickers arrive from the Caribbean

Crop pickers are arriving from as far afield as the Caribbean to help prevent fruit and vegetables from rotting in fields across the UK.

Desperate farmers can’t recruit enough Britons, so they’ve brought in workers from countries like Ukraine and Kenya and raised wages to £20 an hour.

Many EU workers who have picked British produce in the past have stayed away since Brexit. The government has instituted a visa regime for 30,000 foreign pickers.

Ali Capper of the National Farmers’ Union said there are “unforgivable” levels of food waste, reportedly at record levels.

A cooperative farming group in the east of Scotland lost £1.1 million on broccoli and cauliflower.


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