As demand picks up in preparation for Black Friday and Christmas, warehouses across the UK are having to increase wages by 30% to secure staff and continue operating. This comes as the already buckling warehousing industry faces a shortage of tens of thousands of workers after Brexit.
Midland Pallet Trucks, a provider of high-quality manual handling equipment including pallet trucks, manual stacker trucks and lift tables, has reported that their customers are complaining of increased costs and the struggle to replace the temporary European workers that previously worked in warehouse and distribution centres during the festive season.
After Brexit, many European workers have relocated to countries where they don’t need to secure a visa like France and Germany. This has left the warehouse industry with an abundance of entry-level jobs open in the UK—which show no signs of being filled in time. Normally these roles would have been filled in September to cover the peak two-week period, so the industry is dangerously running out of time.
To encourage more workers to take on temporary warehousing roles, companies are increasing wages by between 20-30%. This higher wage may help to beat the reluctance to apply for these jobs but has affected the willingness to work overtime—normally a standard practice around Christmas.
According to Totaljobs, many positions are being offered at £9-13 an hour with a £60 bonus for some evening jobs, this is a steep increase compared to the UK’s minimum wage of £8.91.
The festive period is historically difficult for labour intense industries, but this year the issues are set to be exacerbated by the increase in online orders, HGV driver shortages and lack of temporary workers.
These problems will also have a knock-on effect on customers, who can expect extended delivery times, a withdrawal of next day delivery services, higher prices, and a reduction in product choice.
Phil Chesworth, Managing Director of Midland Pallet Trucks says “This is a huge industry-wide problem. It’s been a problem ever since Brexit happened, but we’re really going to be feeling the effects of it over the next few months. After the year we had, many of our customers can’t afford to increase pay by 30% just to fill roles but have been left with no alternative.”
He continues, “We hope that by drawing attention to this issue we can encourage the government to seriously address the shortages and put a plan of action together to save our industry before it’s too late.”