Oakmore Builders’ Lee Summers wants his EU workers’ future here guaranteed

Lee Summers
Lee Summers, MD of Oakmore Builders, shown here with George Osborne at the launch of the Parliamentary Review of the Construction Sector

Lee Summers, managing director of Bromley-based building services firm Oakmore Builders, shown here at the launch of the Parliamentary Review of the Construction Sector to which he contributed, is incredibly frustrated that the Government still can’t give any conclusive answers on its Brexit strategy

Has Brexit had an impact on your business?

It hasn’t had an impact so far, we’re still very busy.  I think it could have an impact on my business once we leave, but I don’t think that anyone knows what is going on. It’s hard to determine where we are after we officially leave.

Many building firms rely on European labour, do you have many EU workers?

I have many Polish people working for me and, although the Polish economy seems to be on the up, they want to stay here. A lot of migrant workers have returned to their home countries, but the guys that work for me want to stay because they can earn good money and have a good life here. Most importantly for me, they are skilled workers. I’m pretty disappointed with the Government seeming to still not have a clue about what is going on and not making it clear to my Polish workers where they stand and what will happen to them.

Would you sponsor your EU workers to allow them to stay here if necessary?

I will certainly look into if we find that they are not eligible to stay in the country anymore, which I don’t think is going to happen. I think after Brexit there has to be something in place that allows migrant EU workers to work in the UK and I think the same is going to apply when it is the opposite way around, with British nationals working abroad. But the Government needs to be 100% clear on where they stand and they are leaving it pretty late.

Is it hard to get British workers to do building work?

The problem is this. I pay my Polish workers the same money as any British workers I use. They are all on good money with me, but I find that some British workers come with a different attitude to work.  My Polish workers have a quick cup of coffee in the morning and then they crack on all day and do a fantastic job. British workers, not all of them, but a lot of them in my industry they just want to hold their hand out on a Friday and not put the hard work and hours in through the week.

Are you concerned about Brexit causing possible supply chain problems?

I do see there being severe problems with supply chains. I think that is inevitable. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that you are going to have all sorts of import duty problems and haulage issues up and down the M20 going towards Dover and Folkestone. But I think as long as the Government gets on top of this now, it hopefully will be okay. Although, as I’ve said before, they’ve left everything a bit late to be making plans about the logistics.

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