Seasonal worker shortage sees eastern Europeans flown into UK

Several large UK farms are taking drastic steps to cope with the seasonal labour shortage chartering flights for eastern European farmworkers.

It’s understood the majority are being flown in from Romania, with restrictions lifted there to allow farmworkers to travel overseas.

Earlier this week, a report by the BBC stated that G’s Fresh in Cambridgeshire, one of the UK’s largest fresh food producers, was among those to have chartered flights.

The broadcaster explained that the first flight would bring a total of 150 Romanian farm workers into the UK.

What about social distancing?

With Britain still under lockdown, many members of the public have expressed their concern.

However, growers have insisted the workers will adhere to the same social distancing rules as the rest of the population at all times, and will also be screened on arrival in the UK.

Workers found to have a high temperature will be placed in quarantine until their health is fully restored.

The necessity for labour

Despite the UK currently being in lockdown, the need for farm labour is as great as ever, if not greater. In previous years, farmers have already warned that crops could be left to rot in the ground because of a lack of labour.

Some have criticised the farms for not hiring locals. However, as Mark Bridgeman, president of CLA, explained not enough had come forward.

While over 30,000 people, from the UK had come forward to help farmers through the ‘Feed the Nation’ campaign, the number of workers needed is almost three times as high.

He said: “This is great news and shows a tremendous attitude at these difficult times.

This excellent response is not enough – we need 80,000 people to ensure fruit and vegetables are picked on time this summer.

“We would strongly encourage people from across the country to keep coming forward and signing up with recruitment agencies.

“There are good jobs available and great opportunities for those currently furloughed, unemployed or students.”

Bridgeman continued to say that based on the deficit of labour in the UK currently, bringing in workers from abroad will help.

“Where it is possible and safe to do so in the current circumstances, bringing in workers from overseas to help meet the shortfall is the right thing to do if we want to keep the supermarkets stocked,” he added.