Blog: Ministers blast firms for complaining about Brexit staff shortages – Daily Mail

Ministers warn firms facing staff woes to stop complaining about shortage of foreign workers and pay Britons more instead

  • Firms are blaming Brexit and Covid-19 for a shortage of staff in their businesses 
  • The Government rejected the complaints insisting firms should increase wages
  • The hospitality sector claims it is short of more than 210,000 staff  

By Tom Witherow For The Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Ministers have warned companies that they should increase their wages rather than complain about the shortage of foreign labour.

The pandemic and Brexit have combined to cause a staffing crisis in restaurants, cafes, warehouses and factories as fewer foreign workers have been looking for work in the UK.

But firms have been criticised for offering ‘poverty wages’ to prospective staff while lobbying for immigration rules to be relaxed.

Labour minister Paul Scully, pictured, said employers in affected industries should increase wages to encourage British people to apply for their empty vacancies

Crop pickers are flying people from the Caribbean to fill roles that had previously been filled by those from the EU. Pictured here, seasonal workers from Romania, in September 2017 in Pulborough, Sussex

Meanwhile, driving schools for lorry drivers have been flooded with applicants after retailers were forced to raise salaries to over £50,000 amid a national shortage.

The hospitality sector is missing 210,000 staff, or 10 per cent of its total workforce, according to trade body UKHospitality. And unemployment has risen during the pandemic to just over 1.6million.

Critics have blasted bosses who expect British workers to accept low pay and tough working conditions, which would otherwise be taken by migrant workers. Now ministers are demanding firms raise wages and make jobs more attractive to UK workers.

Paul Scully, the minister for the labour market, said: ‘We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad. Businesses should be looking at how to make employment more attractive, including through wage increases and offering training.’

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

While Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium said UK workers ‘do not want to do those roles for whatever reason’. But an audit by the Daily Mail found that several companies suffering from staffing shortages are advertising roles below the real living wage of £9.50 per 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 will be paid between £10.01 and £10.35.

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

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

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

Wages at Amazon, which is hiring 12,000 staff in the UK as part of a major expansion, start at £10 per hour, and £11.10 in London. The firm is trying to throw off the reputation that their warehouse staff are poorly paid and forced to work in dire conditions. 

A massive £650billion will be spent on major construction projects over the next decade, supporting 425,000 jobs each year, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will announce today.

Crop pickers fly in from the Caribbean 

Crop pickers are flying in from as far away as the Caribbean to help stop fruit and veg from rotting in fields across the UK.

Desperate farmers cannot recruit enough Britons so have brought in workers from countries including Ukraine and Kenya, and increased wages to up to £20 an hour.

Many EU workers who picked UK produce in the past have stayed away since Brexit. The Government has set up a visa regime for 30,000 foreign pickers.

Ali Capper of the National Farmers’ Union said there are ‘inexcusable’ levels of food waste, reportedly at record levels.

One co-operative farming group in east Scotland recorded a loss of £1.1million worth of broccoli and cauliflower.

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Ministers blast firms for complaining about Brexit staff shortages

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