Scots engineering firm's Polish staff 'struggle' with Brexit

By Andrew Black
Business presenter, BBC Good Morning Scotland

  • Published
Walker Precision Engineering worker
Image caption,
Walker manufactures and assembles parts for the aerospace, defence and industrial sectors

The boss of a high-end Scottish engineering firm has said colleagues working in its Poland facility are struggling to understand Brexit.

Walker Precision Engineering managing director David Walker's comments came as he urged MPs to "pull together to remove the uncertainty" over the issue.

Mr Walker also said some customers had moved stock from the UK to Poland to safeguard against potential delays.

Glasgow-based Walker Precision Engineering makes parts for the defence and space industries, and has production facilities in Essex and Tychy in southern Poland.

'Terrifying' risk

Mr Walker told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme : "We've been working closely with our Polish colleagues, and they struggle with understanding what's actually happening in the UK at the moment, as do a lot of people."

He added: "Some of our European strategic customers have moved stock from the UK to Poland to de-risk against any potential delays to their supply."

Mr Walker also said his company had been stockpiling raw materials in case of delays at UK ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

And he expressed concern about getting people to fill jobs, adding : "We have noticed a significant reduction in European migrant workers applying for jobs.

"It's becoming more challenging to bridge some of the skills gaps that we're experiencing."

Mr Walker added: "We're all very optimistic and hoping all our MPs will pull together to remove this uncertainty and put the interests of British business first."

Image caption,
J D Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said Scotland's fishing industry and other sectors would benefit from Brexit

Concern about Brexit has spread across Scotland's engineering industry.

Chris Smith, boss of Livingston-based Almond Engineering, told BBC Scotland earlier that 80% of its turnover went to foreign-owned companies and that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit without a transition period was "terrifying".

The UK government has said securing the rights of resident EU citizens had "always been" its priority, and that leaving the EU would allow Britain to "put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK".

Meanwhile, the boss of pub chain J D Wetherspoon said it would be a "plus" if the UK left the EU without a trade deal.

Referring to the UK's Brexit divorce bill, Tim Martin told Good Morning Scotland: "We'll save £39bn, we can regain control of fishing which is an important industry especially in Scotland and we can eliminate tariffs on a lot of things we import into the UK which aren't produced here."

Speaking as JD Weatherspoon announced a 19% plunge in half-year profits - partly put down to rising labour costs - Mr Martin said: "I agree with people who say, provided people have a job, they should be able to come and work here from the EU - a similar situation to the freedom of movement we've had from Ireland in the past.

"Provided immigration's controlled by our own government, there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to recruit people from abroad."

For more on this story and the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.

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