Romanians flown in to help crisis-hit farmers. So much for the ‘land army’. And Brexit. Oh… and the coronavirus

What a bloody shambles, but I said it would be.

I stated: “Farms used to take on a lot of seasonal workers from EU countries before Brexit but that opportunity isn’t open to them now, partly because the UK has left the EU and partly because movement between countries has been stopped because of the pandemic.

“So now farmers are calling for help, saying the work should appeal to students, jobseekers and anyone who has been laid off work due to the impact of coronavirus.”

And I pointed out: “Certain unscrupulous farmers should not expect to pay native Brits the same pittances they foisted on foreign nationals just because they could.

“But most of all – the glaring issue that seems to have gone straight over their heads – there’s this: Coronavirus demands that we stay away from each other. How are they going to ensure that workers stay safe?”

It seems many Brits felt the same way: a “feed the nation” appeal by the government flopped badly.

So much for the so-called “land army”.

Instead, the government has opened the UK’s borders to allow Romanian workers into the country to carry out the work. So much for Brexit.

And of course, any checks for illness are being carried out at the Bucharest end of the flights. Has the UK ever imposed checks on people coming into the country?

So much for the coronavirus.

All in all, it really makes a mockery of the Tory government’s efforts to sustain agriculture.

At this rate, who knows what sort of harvest we’ll get?

Romanian workers are being flown in to help feed Britain amid a continuing recruitment crisis in the agriculture sector.

Special charter flights have started flying into the UK from Bucharest with desperately needed workers for British farms that risk losing their crop of early summer fruit and vegetables because of the coronavirus lockdown.

One plane was due to land in Stansted airport on Wednesday afternoon, with another landing on Thursday with 150 people onboard.

Source: Romanian fruit pickers flown to UK amid crisis in farming sector | World news | The Guardian

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  1. trev April 16, 2020 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    You couldn’t make it up, what a farce. I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that such work doesn’t appeal to unemployed Brits, though the pay would have to be enough, it’s just not possible for most of us to work away from home, and for someone like me on JSA it’s not worth breaking your claim to do temporary work that would mean claiming Universal Credit afterwards. Fine if you’re already on UC and live close enough to an agricultural area. No use at all if you’re on JSA and live in a rented urban property hundreds of miles away from the fruit & veg growing areas. The Establishment should have thought of that before they embarked on the Inclosures all those centuries ago that lead to the creation of a nation of landless peasants – the displaced population of agricultural workers who then moved to the newly formed cities to form the Working Class of the Industrial Revolution.

    • Red Star April 17, 2020 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      As Trev says, the work is rarely local to the unemployed and would only be of a short duration. I used to do a lot of short contract work in the past, but I wouldn’t consider it now that my reward would be weeks on the Universal Credit waiting list.

      However as someone who in the past has worked in horticulture (full-time position) and done short term agricultural labouring, I can tell you that employers in these fields (excuse the pun) DO employ locals… but on a cash-in-hand basis. Less than the minimum wage, but no tax, NI, etc paid. I’ve done it myself, potato picking, although in my defence I was between jobs and not signing on at the time – it was only 3 weeks of work.

      The black economy plays a large, though probably unquantifiable, part in these sectors. Always has, probably always will.

      (Incidentally, and not wishing to cause a panic, but I understand that the wet winter we’ve just had is likely to impact on the winter wheat yields, causing shortages in the near future…. just around about the time Johnson crashes us with a no-deal Brexit probably. Something to bear in mind…)

  2. Jeffrey Davies April 17, 2020 at 5:00 am - Reply

    Oh look a tourist worker yet they lied big time we need these people to plant harvest otherwise it doesn’t get done they work under great pressure for money you can bet is well below our hourly rate they live under a gangmaster who gets the monies they then deduct your living out of it even before you get it it makes me wonder about people who say they reaping loads of monies from the benefits system yet they work dam hard for a pittance oh those darmed foreigners

  3. Chris Kitcher April 17, 2020 at 7:23 am - Reply

    Most of the people living in the agricultural east of England voted for Brexit in their droves. Its the east of England that now needs these workers so why not determine who voted for Brexit and then force then to do this work.

  4. J Edington April 17, 2020 at 10:57 am - Reply

    This is just one of the things I hope folk are finding out via this pandemic. I wonder if they realise that it is what they voted for and the same shortages of workers and food will continue ad infinitum after their beloved Brexit.

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