An Aberdeen councillor has warned new rules on immigration would bring “human and economic disaster” to the city.
Christian Allard, who moved to Scotland from France in the 1980s, warned post-Brexit rules announced by the Home Office would have a detrimental impact on a number of sectors in the north-east.
Under the plans announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday, workers classed as “unskilled” by the UK Government would not be eligible for visas.
Mr Allard, who claimed he would not have qualified himself at the time he moved, highlighted how Aberdeen is reliant on workers from overseas.
And he admitted he fears the impact of the policy on families and businesses in the north-east.
He said: “This is a human disaster for Aberdeen and Scotland and it is also an economic disaster.
“Areas such as fishing, energy and care are all going to suffer the impact of this. For a global city like Aberdeen, this is the last thing we need.
“Aberdeen has one of the biggest concentrations of migrant workers in the UK. It’s a huge problem for employers and employees.”
The UK Government wants to introduce a points-based immigration system, which was promised in the Conservatives’ manifesto ahead of December’s General Election.
Workers would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK.
Speaking English and having the offer of a job at an appropriate skill level would give workers 50 points.
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More points would be awarded if the person has higher qualifications, such as a PhD, or the salary on offer.
They would also receive more points for working in a sector with staff shortages. Jobs in the new “skilled” category include carpentry, plastering and childminding.
Workers from the European Economic Area will lose the automatic right to live and work in the UK and will be treated equal to those from other parts of the world due to Brexit.
Scottish Seafood Association chief executive Jimmy Buchan expressed concern, saying all types of workers were vital to the sector.
He added: “We will take our case to the UK Government in the coming days and weeks.”
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said: “We are concerned that these proposals, as drafted, could hinder the production and processing of Scottish salmon.
“We are seeking urgent meetings with UK Government ministers to find ways of making these plans work better for our sector.”
Michael Park, of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said: “Currently we have 850 non EU workers out of a workforce of 4,500.
“That’s a significant part of the workforce.”
Conservative Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid claimed the plans would ensure the north-east attracted “the best talent from around the world”.
He added: “I have always said we need an immigration system that works for all parts of the UK.
“I hope my colleagues on the SNP benches will also seek to work constructively with the Government for the good of Scotland rather than simply shouting from the sidelines.”
The Scottish Government’s migration minister Ben Macpherson said: “The UK Government’s immigration proposals are an insult to Scotland – they completely disregard the needs of our employers, our public services and our communities.
“We need an evidence-based approach which reflects the needs of our economy and has been developed through engagement with employers and communities.”
But Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland Douglas Ross MP said: “The new system will work for Scotland and the whole of the UK.
“It will support our renowned universities and world-beating hi-tech sector.
“It avoids putting up barriers to business by splitting our UK-wide system and it ensures our whole economy can continue to grow.”