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Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard


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LOCH FYNE Oysters has already felt the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, seeing a significant drop-off in seasonal labour from the continent last year.
Managing director Cameron Brown said: “Our busiest season is from October to December, ready for Christmas, and we rely a lot on seasonal labour.
“In the past we have had regular workers who have come over from countries like Latvia and Poland to help at this time, but this year around a third of them did not arrive.

“It’s a gap which is difficult to plug locally because we operate in a rural area and this kind of temporary workforce does not live locally. Instead we had to rely on agency workers and overtime, which increases our costs.”

They are unclear as to exactly why so many of their regular overseas workers opted not to come across this season, however it is feared that if migration is affected by Brexit then it will continue.

“If Brexit leads to tighter restrictions on migrant labour, this trend will continue. This has not just affected our business though, we know it has affected many other businesses who rely on migrant workers.”

They are now investigating other potential solutions to meet the shortfall in the workforce.

“If we can’t rely on seasonal workers to help out during peak periods, we will have to look at alternative solutions and that’s something we’re investigating.”
Transport and digital links as they are make it difficult to fill the gap in the workforce, Cameron added: “It would help if there were better transport links so that we can attract staff from a wider catchment area. It would also help us with recruitment if broadband speeds were faster.”

Aside from the lack of available hands to do the work, there are myriad other difficulties to consider.

“On the one hand the exchange rate has helped us to enjoy some good growth in Europe but, on the other hand there are many unknowns.
“We don’t know what - if any - tariffs will be placed on us next year and whether this will constrain our trade in Europe.
“There is also a question over food labelling. European food standards are very strict in order to ensure safety and allergen control but we are extremely concerned that they could be diluted as part of trade deals with non-EU countries. Thankfully, Food Standards Scotland is working hard to keep our labelling regulations harmonised with Europe but there remain many ‘ifs and buts’.”

However, in the midst of the doom and gloom of the economic forecasts, demand for their seafood is still growing.
“The good news is that demand is growing, though, and we are confident we can double production if we can just get the staff.”

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