December 1, 2016 / 9:30 AM / a year ago

British food industry needs access to labour post-Brexit, bosses say

LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The bosses of Sainsbury’s , Marks & Spencer and Morrisons have said Britain’s food and supermarket sector will need continued access to EU migrant labour after the country leaves the European Union.

The heads of companies which employ 925,000 people in Britain’s food industry wrote to The Times on Thursday to call on the government to ensure tariff-free access to the EU single market was maintained after Brexit, including access to labour.

“The sector needs access to EU and non-EU seasonal and permanent labour, alongside assurances that EU workers already working permanently in the UK are allowed to remain,” said the bosses of 75 companies in a letter.

“This access to labour is essential as it underpins the UK food chain’s timely delivery of high-quality, affordable food to consumers.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger the two-year negotiation process for leaving the bloc before the end of March, but it is not clear what sort of deal the two sides will strike over trade and the movement of people.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe put his name to the letter alongside other retail bosses, farming union bosses and the chief executives of cereal manufacturer Weetabix and cheese and butter maker Dairy Crest. (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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