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Thu 24th Aug 2017 - Food firms raise fears over EU workers' rights following Brexit
Food firms raise fears over EU workers' rights following Brexit: Almost three-quarters (73%) of EU workers in the “farm to fork” supply chain are concerned over their right to remain in the UK following Brexit, according to a new survey. The survey was co-ordinated by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and conducted among members of trade bodies including the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association. EU nationals number two million across the UK economy, with 20% of those workers employed in the food and drink supply chain. Almost half (47%) of businesses surveyed said EU nationals were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty surrounding their future, while more than one-third (36%) said their business would become unviable without access to EU workers. Nearly one-third (31%) of businesses surveyed had seen EU nationals leave since the EU referendum, with 17% stating they would look to relocate overseas if they had no access to EU nationals. The survey includes key recommendations to government, including short-term measures such as legislation to secure the rights of EEA nationals currently in the UK and recognition of the strategic importance of the food and drink supply chain. Medium-term recommendations include ensuring there is no cliff-edge when the UK leaves the EU, while long-term measures include investment in skills and changes to the benefits system to make flexible working easier. FDF director general Ian Wright said: “It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores. This is a scenario that will hurt the UK culturally and economically. Without our dedicated and valued workforce we would be unable to feed the nation. That is why it is imperative we receive assurances from government about their future, and that of our wider workforce.”

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