No turkey this Christmas if EU-workers exposed to quarantine restrictions
The British Poultry Council calls for covid restrictions upon seasonal poultry workers to be removed in order to save the festive season.
Non-UK seasonable poultry workers should be exempt from quarantine restrictions to “ensure Christmas supply does not collapse”, says The British Poultry Council.
The call comes as the association highlights a lack of UK-based workers equipped with the necessary skills and training to slaughter and process Christmas turkeys.
Around nine million British turkeys are reared for Christmas each year;1 and currently, the UK is heavily reliant on licensed and trained EU workers to deliver them. Unfortunately, according to the Council, these skilled workers cannot be easily replaced without a lengthy training and recruitment process – something which is, frankly, unfeasible in such a short timeframe.
The association is therefore requesting that the quarantine exemption covers at least 1,000 seasonal workers coming from Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia at the end of October 2020.
“The seasonal turkey sector is vital to delivering the Great British Christmas and it cannot survive without access to non-UK labour,” said Richard Griffiths, British Poultry Council, Chief Executive.
If the 1,000+ vacancies which the seasonal turkey industry requires cannot be filled, it will have a “significant impact” on both the production and, as a result, cost of food. This will pose a risk to affordability, warned Griffiths, and potentially means some will go without food this festive season.
“If the sector cannot bring in trained workers from outside the UK, then the level and quality of production will be significantly compromised,” he continued. “Government must ensure that British poultry meat, and the quality it represents, stays affordable and available for all. Losing control of how we feed ourselves as a nation would penalise British food producers at a time when we should be taking matters of food security into our own hands.”