by Colin Campbell
AS the Brexit deadline looms ever larger, expect to be bombarded by claims from business leaders, politicians and some councillors that a mass exodus of European workers is all but inevitable and will be a catastrophe as EU employees desert their posts with no one else around to fill them. We’ve heard it all before, but it will be ramped up in the days ahead. Emmanuel Moine, chairman of the Inverness Hotels Association, has already said CVs from Europe are drying up, leading to a staffing “nightmare”. As I asked before – how about CVs from local people, are they drying up also?
These claims are reported in the mainstream media as if they’re gospel.
The clear implication that comes across is that there are more job vacancies around in Inverness and elsewhere than there are people to fill them. And soon some local employers won’t be able to get enough staff for love or money.
This a complete load of scaremongering and untrue rubbish.
In recent years hotels and other businesses have had the pick of a mass influx of bright and engaging young people from Poland and Romania and elsewhere and have taken full advantage of it. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone from one of these countries educated to university standard and willing to work for low wages which is still very good money compared with what they’d earn back home? It’s been a bonanza for these employers.
But claims that in the extremely unlikely event that some EU workers do quit as a result of Brexit bosses won’t be able to find people to staff their firms is a total distortion of reality.
Older people seeking work in Inverness are particularly and acutely aware of this. Eager and willing to work they commonly don’t get a look in.
Applications go unanswered and age discrimination is a huge factor. Over 50, far less over 60 – who wants to know.
Of course there are exceptions. It’s not as if every older person seeking work is going to end up on the scrapheap. But age discrimination is alive and well in the employment sector – despite ineffectual and ineffective attempts by the Government to ban it.
To a certain extent, this is the way of the world and always has been. Politicians can legislate as much as they like but human nature tells you that very many employers would be more inclined – much more inclined – to look seriously at hiring someone in their 20s or 30s rather than in their 50s and 60s. There’s just no getting away from the fact.
Of course there are some jobs – in construction for example – that older people are probably physically unable to do. But there are many, many more that they can do, and to which they would bring life’s experience and knowledge.
We hear so much about folk from the EU being willing to do jobs that Brits shun. What’s never spelled out is what, exactly, these jobs are. The claims are merely repeated again and again and seem now to be widely accepted as true.
So rather than generalising how about an example. What about night porter on Saturdays and Sundays from 11pm-7am at an Inverness hotel. Part-time, the most unsocial hours, minimum wage – you’d hardly expect applicants to be knocked down in the rush.
And the reality? The job was snapped up quicker than you could say – “Saturday night is for eating out, drinking and snoring”.
So much for Emmanuel Moine and his staffing “nightmare”. And that’s just one example of the level of competition for supposedly low-end jobs that you’d think – if you swallowed the Brexit propaganda – would be going-a-begging.
Inverness MP Drew Hendry has been a prime blatherer on the supposedly dreadful consequences of an exodus of EU workers from Inverness and firms left bereft of anyone to employ.
Hendry has a track record of half the time seeming more concerned about the rights and prospects for EU migrants than he is about the rights and prospects for local people. I reported before about his “despair” at the inability of local people to find accommodation – but he still wants more and more folk from the EU coming here.
If Hendry wasn’t an MP raking it in in parliament but at his age was casting around for a job in Inverness – any job – he’d be singing a very different tune on the supposed catastrophe of a few EU workers possibly leaving with “no-one left to fill the vacancies”.
He’d be filling in application after application – and struggling to get any replies.
Age discrimination in employment has always been with us and always will be. It’s a regrettable fact of life. But at this particular time all the hoo-hah about a fantasy “Brexit exodus” and “staffing nightmares” must be particularly galling to older people in Inverness unable to get work.
Inverness news and views offers an alternative, accurate and realistic view compared with some of the guff you read in the mainstream media which goes unchallenged. And persistent claims pumped out by politicians and the business sector about the awful prospect for employers of more jobs being available than there are people to fill them if Brexit goes pear-shaped deserves to be exposed for the complete and utter garbage that it is.