Processors \’will be able to recruit from overseas\’

Scottish secretary Alister Jack

THE seafood sector has been told it will be able to recruit overseas workers under the government’s new points based immigration proposals.

It had been feared that the scheme, announced this week, would hit processing plants, particularly in the north east of Scotland, where 70 per cent of employees are foreign nationals.

However, roles such as fish filleters and fish processors, as well as butchers, slaughtermen in abattoirs and dairy workers, will now be classified as skilled, said the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack.

Writing in today’s Herald, Jack said: ‘For all those jobs, and many more, employers will be able to recruit workers from overseas.’

And the new system, a replacement for freedom of movement with the EU which ends on December 31, would be less restrictive than at present, he stressed.

‘Under the present system for skilled workers, people coming to the UK need the offer of a degree-level job, with a salary of £30,000 or more.

‘Employers recruiting them must also pass a Resident Labour Market Test by advertising the job here first.

‘In future, there will be no Resident Market Labour Test. And no cap either, as there is at present.

‘And the minimum salary threshold is being reduced from £30,000 to £25,600.’

Lower salaries will be applicable where there are specific skills shortages.

Concerns were raised this week by the Scottish Seafood Association and the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation that Westminster’s immigration plans would lead to shortages of labour.

David Duguid, Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: ‘I have had discussions in recent days with representatives of fisheries and agricultural sectors, who have expressed concerns about what has been reported about the new UK immigration proposals.

‘While MPs will still need to scrutinise the detail as legislation works its way through parliament, there are several elements of this that have been clarified today.

‘For example, the fact that jobs in our fish processing plants and abattoirs will be classed as skilled will mean that employers will still be able to recruit from overseas as they do at present.’

The removal of other administrative burdens will make it easier for businesses to recruit staff not just from the EU but from around the world, he added.

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