Page 22 - Farm labour in the UK
P. 22

• Largely attributable to the media, seasonal work has been portrayed as back-breaking ‘dirty’ work, commonly associated with cases of modern-day slavery. While such cases exist, this perception is unfair to many of the more ethical employers who treat their staff well.
• The situation of many migrant workers is simply not comparable to domestic workers in the UK
“If you’re going somewhere outside your home country with the intention of working for a sustained period of time to accrue a pot of money to then bring back, that is different to somebody who is settled and used to living a family life in the UK who is looking for work that will give them a steady financial income that they can rely on year round” (Labour expert 2)
Pertaining to migrant workers in particular:
• Crises such as COVID-19 prevent workers from being able to arrive in the UK (e.g. local/national
lockdowns in multiple countries, flights cancelled, an increase in early leavers rate returning home).
“We struggled to get our usual people back. All the planes were being cancelled. They just couldn't get here. It was awful. It also increased our early leavers rate as well, for the same reason” (Farmer 3)
• Fluctuations in the value of the pound sterling can make the UK less attractive as a workplace destination.
• Visa and other fees will be off-putting to potential workers.
• Abolition of the SAWs scheme, Brexit, and limitations of the new immigration laws all contribute to the likelihood of labour shortfalls in the coming years.
• An improvement in the home economy of workers from places like Poland, Romania and
Bulgaria tempts some workers to remain at, or return home for work.
• Competition from other countries e.g. Germany
“Our biggest competitor is Germany. And the problem is in Germany there are lots more tax breaks. They can work more hours than we let them work because of our ethical working laws. So, they can earn a lot of money in Germany” (Farmer 3)
• A change in attitude towards coming to the U.K occurred for some migrant workers post-referendum, due to feeling less welcome or in danger.
• Competition from other industries. Many other U.K industry sectors are also experiencing labour shortages and might be attracting workers away from seasonal farming positions (driven by better pay, working indoors, and being less physically challenging).
“With the immigration system there will be no entry route into lower skilled work for EU nationals from next year. So everyone, whether in care, construction, distribution, agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, who requires workers in lower skilled roles will be sourcing from the UK resident population and those who have EU settled or pre-settled status” (Labour expert 1)
• Several stakeholders expressed frustration at the fact that farm work was not on the shortage
occupation list, suggesting that the evidence is repeatedly ignored and that this will be to the detriment of the industry.

   20   21   22   23   24