The UK is making emergency calls for 800 foreign butchers to avoid mass pig slaughter

A combination of Brexit and COVID-19 has triggered a migration of workers from slaughterhouses and created a backlog of 120,000 pigs to be slaughtered

Article content

LONDON-UK will offer a six-month emergency visa to 800 foreign butchers to avoid a mass pig, it said on Thursday, after farmers complained that an excursion of workers from slaughterhouses and meat processors had left the pork sector struggling for survival.

Advertisement

Article content

A combination of Brexit and COVID-19 has triggered an exodus of Eastern European workers, leaving about 120,000 pigs in barns and fields across the country waiting to be slaughtered, according to the National Pig Association.

Environmental Secretary George Eustice said the temporary visas would solve the problem, as farmers said they risked livelihoods and caused animal welfare issues.

“What we are going to do is allow butchers at slaughterhouses and meat processors who handle pigs to be able to enter temporarily during the Seasonal Worker program for up to six months,” Eustice told reporters.

“It will help us deal with the backlog of pigs we currently have on farms to enable these meat processors to slaughter more pigs.”

Advertisement

Article content

Eustice said about 800 butchers would be needed to clear the backlog and announced private storage aid to help slaughterhouses store meat.

But he said the government had decided not to facilitate the English language requirement for skilled visas to allow more butchers to come that way – an important requirement from farmers, who have been demanding for weeks for ministers to take action.

“The industry had asked us to look at the language requirement on the route,” he said. “We have looked at it but we do not think it provides an answer to their specific challenge. And that’s why we decided to have a temporary visa instead. ”

The shortage of butchers is just one of a number of areas where the UK is facing an acute labor shortage.

Last month, it announced plans to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers and 5,500 poultry workers, but the government wants companies to invest in a UK workforce rather than relying on cheap foreign labor.

Advertisement

Article content

Ministers have also been keen to downplay proposals that Britain’s exit from the European Union was the most important issue affecting labor in the supply chains.

Many workers in the pig industry had gone home during the pandemic and simply did not return, Eustice said.

“It’s a complex picture: there have been many market disruptions, problems with access to the Chinese market, perhaps some overproduction – here production is increasing by about seven percent – and yes, labor has been an aggravating factor but it has not been the only factor. , says Eustice.

“The pig industry, and in common with many parts of the food industry, has seen a loss of staff as many EU citizens as they trusted on the left during the pandemic – nothing to do with Brexit.”

As part of the measures to address the problem of the shortage of truck drivers, he said that cabotage rules for EU drivers would be eased so that they could make as many journeys as they wanted over a two-week period.

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encouraging all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update of a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community guidelines for more information and information on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *