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Food shortages feared with ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Posted on August 3, 2019 by Gerald Flynn

INTERNAL British civil service research has highlighted fears of food shortages, hoarding and rising prices as well as major travel disruptions when Britain leaves the EU at the end of October without a negotiated departure agreement.

Internal papers from the Department of Education, disclosed by the London Observer newspaper (August 2019) details the dangers of food shortages to schools, but addds that informing the public of the risks could make matters even worse.

In a section entitled School Food, it talks of the:

“risk that communications in this area could spark undue alarm or panic food buying among the general public”

And it adds: “Warehousing and stockpiling capacity will be more limited in the pre-Xmas period. The department has limited levers to address these risks. We are heavily dependent on the actions of major suppliers and other government departments to ensure continued provision.”

Listing the actions the department would take in the event of food shortages affecting schools, the document says: “In light of any food shortages or price increases we will communicate how schools can interpret the food menu standards flexibly. DfE may make exceptional payments – or submit a prepared bid to HM Treasury for additional funding. Worst case scenario estimate of the increased costs – £40m [€43.5m] to £85m [€92.5m] a year for schools in relation to free school meals based on price increases of 10-20%.”

Battle for migrants key to sustained growth

Posted on July 31, 2019 by Gerald Flynn

IRELAND will become more dependent on immigrant workers over the next few years but most will probably come from outside the European Union according to the Central Bank.
In a new study on labour market demands and net migration trends, the bank’s economists note that recent higher-skilled workers have been coming from southern European states like Spain, Italy and Croatia. Prior to the economic crash and asset bubble, most migrants to Ireland came from the newer EU states like Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Net inward migration will be the most important source of new employees if the economy continues to grow at the rates seen over the past number of years, according to the study.

It adds that inward migration will be critical in ensuring that growth is not impeded by labour or skill shortages.

However, the Central Bank of Ireland study warns the Republic is unlikely to see levels of migration – up to 100,000 a year – similar to those witnessed in the mid-2000s and will face a battle with other countries to secure talent. Furthermore, employers won’t benefit from paying lower wages to migrants as many did during the Celtic Tiger years especially in construction and agriculture jobs.

The accession of 10 eastern European countries to the EU between 2004 and 2007 led to a sharp spike in the number of migrants in the Republic. That helped sustain growth during the tail-end of the boom. But while EU accession countries made up nearly 60% of recently-arrived migrants in employment during those years, they count for just one-in-four new migrants currently.


Move to review laws on non-disclosure deals at work

Posted on June 8, 2019 by Miriam Ahern

THE British government has announced a review of legislation on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the workplace. These ‘gagging agreements’ have often been use to cover-up or hide unacceptable behaviour or harassment by senior managers or business owners.
These legal mechanisms – usually in return for enhanced payments – are becoming increasingly common in Irish workplaces as firms try to limit reputational damage by insisting on confidential clauses related to unacceptable behaviour.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD, said:“We welcome the government’s plans to tackle the minority of cases where NDAs are used unethically to potentially prevent victims of alleged harassment or discrimination from speaking out about their experience.
“We particularly welcome plans to make clear the limitations of a confidentiality clause so individuals signing them fully understand their rights. Proposals to ensure that individuals signing NDAs will get independent legal advice on the limitations of a confidentiality clause are also a positive step,” he added.

“However, changes to the law alone will not help to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring in the first place. There needs to be far greater recognition in some organisations that their culture has to change. This change starts with leaders and managers role-modelling the right behaviours and a greater focus on boosting diversity and inclusion.”