Desperate UK food producers are reportedly requesting the Government of the United Kingdom to allow them to use prisoners to help address the acute labor shortage brought on by a combination of Brexit and COVID-19.
According to credible reports, the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, a union body that represents the interests of abattoirs, butchers, and meat processors, stated that it had set up a call with the Ministry of Justice at the start of the week to explore ways its members can hire more ex-offenders and current prisoners.
Companies are attempting to fill vacancies by drafting inmates under a program that permits inmates to work for pay on day release. They are also approaching ex-servicemen and women's charities in an attempt to recruit staff.
According to Tony Goodger of the Meat Suppliers Association, several of its members have already hired prisoners on the release on temporary license arrangement and found them to be valuable assets.
The association had also contacted the Career Transition Partnership, an organization which assists ex-servicemen in finding jobs and had been able to refer some of them to members with job openings; but these numbers are low, Goodger added.
The workforce crisis is not just limited to the industry of food production. A lack of around 90,000 HGV drivers is causing gaps on supermarket and small stores shelves. Through a letter, the freight trade group, Logistics UK and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), have warned UK business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, that consumers would suffer for daily need items unless the government intervenes in the matter.
The workforce scarcity is also having a knock-on impact on the hotel industry, which is also trying to find enough workers, and absences due to Covid-19 or pingdemic are exacerbating the situation. Last week, Nando's had to close a tenth of its outlets owing to a chicken shortage.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice stated that helping inmates find jobs both during and after their sentences makes the possibility of them reoffend much more unlikely. Where possible, the Ministry will actively support all sectors that are facing skills shortages.