Home Immigration News Visas for fruit-pickers: Migrants from outside the EU will be allowed to work on UK farms post-Brexit

Visas for fruit-pickers: Migrants from outside the EU will be allowed to work on UK farms post-Brexit

by admin


Migrants from outside the EU will be allowed to work on UK farms in a first hint of the post-Brexit regime.

Ministers announced they were reopening the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), axed in 2013, which let foreign workers take short-term jobs picking fruit and vegetables.

The trial paves the way for a visa scheme which would allow tens of thousands of migrants to temporarily come to the UK after we quit the EU.

About 60,000 seasonal workers come to the UK each summer, almost exclusively from Eastern Europe under controversial freedom of movement rules.

But employers have warned that agriculture, which relies heavily on EU workers, could struggle if the labour supply dries up when Britain leaves the Brussels bloc next March.

It raised concerns that fruit, vegetables and flowers would be left to rot on British farms because there would not be enough workers to pick produce.

Under plans unveiled by Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, farmers will be allowed to hire non-EU workers for six months under a ‘tightly-controlled regime’.

As part of the two-year pilot, 2,500 workers a year from the rest of the world – including Ukraine, India and north Africa – will be placed on farms across the country.

There will be safeguards against illegal overstaying and against the undercutting and displacement of UK workers.

Two authorised operators will select the workers for the pilot, place them on farms and make sure they leave at the end of their period in the UK.

Ministers said the initiative, which will start in spring next year and run until the end of December 2020, will help alleviate labour shortages during peak production periods. The sector is worth £2billion a year to the economy.

Mr Javid said: ‘This pilot will ensure farmers have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year.

‘I am committed to having an immigration system that reduces migration to sustainable levels, supports all industry and ensures we welcome those who benefit Britain.’ But Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of the think-tank MigrationWatch, which campaigns for tighter migration controls, said: ‘A sensible, temporary, tapered and properly monitored scheme is not a problem.

‘From which countries will these workers be coming? My question to the new Home Secretary is, when will we hear about measures to reduce immigration, rather than increase it?’ Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to reducing net migration – those arriving minus those leaving – to under 100,000. Latest figures show it stood at 271,000 in the year to March.

The pilot will be welcomed by the National Farmers Union, which had called for a special arrangement.

However, ministers hinted that farmers must wean themselves off cheap foreign labour following Brexit. Thy said farmers must ‘look at ways that technology can reduce demands for this physical labour’.

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) ran for 60 years before being scrapped five years ago when Romanians and Bulgarians were given full freedom of movement and access to work in Britain.

Tej Parikh, senior economist at the Institute of Directors, said foreign seasonal workers ‘play a vital role in the UK’s agricultural sector’.

He said: ‘It is encouraging to see the government recognising this, and considering what steps it must take to ensure people from overseas can continue to contribute to firms in this field.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6136987/Visas-fruit-pickers-Migrants-outside-EU-allowed-work-UK-farms-post-Brexit.html

Related Articles