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BPF survey says plastics companies depend heavily on EU workers

PKBR Staff Writer Published 15 June 2017

A survey by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) revealed that the UK plastics industry has half of its temporary workers hailing from the European Union member states.

This shows the continued dependence of the industry on EU workers, stated BPF even as Brexit has made several companies mull over replacing some of them through automated processing.

More than half of plastics companies in the UK depend on recruiting temporary workers during peak periods as per the survey findings. Here, as well the EU workers play a prominent role, accounting to 48% of temporary employees.

Through a feedback, BPF found out that 25% of the surveyed companies are looking forward for any new immigration policy to help them out in addressing short-term, temporary requirements.

According to BPF Brexit Taskforce chairman Mike Boswell, the UK plastics industry for quite some time has found it difficult in having the right staff for crucial roles and Brexit unfortunately has made this situation worse.

Boswell added: “This survey has underlined the importance of EU workers in our industry. If companies that rely on temporary workers to fulfil their orders lose access to almost half of the temporary workforce, this will pose an enormous challenge.

“It is important that at this point companies are exploring all feasible alternatives, including investment in upskilling the existing workforce as well as the development and implementation of technology to automate roles, for which we will require further assistance from the UK government.”

Employing 166,000 people, the UK plastics industry is easily among the top manufacturing sectors in terms of employment. Out of these around 18,000 are EU citizens outside the UK while 4,000 are estimated to come from the rest of the world.

The survey which was completed by about 90 companies found out that EU workers make up about 11% of the total workforce in the UK plastics industry with one in five of all factory floor personnel.

Image: BPF survey reveals that half of temporary workers in the plastics industry hail from the EU. Photo: courtesy of British Plastics Federation.