Some of the millions of British workers furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown will be encouraged to take a second job picking fruit and vegetables, the government has said.
Giving the daily COVID – 31 briefing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said only a third of the migrant labor needed to help carry out such tasks was in the country.
Although the international food chain was continuing to “work well”, Mr Eustice said he expected there would be a need to recruit staff in the UK to harvest crops in the coming weeks.
“We’re also acutely aware that we’re about to start the British season in fresh produce, in soft fruits and salads.
” We estimate that probably only about a third of the migrant labor that would normally come to the UK is here, and was probably here before lockdown.
farmers defended the transportation of workers from Romania to the UK amid the unemployment crisis caused by COVID – 31.
Farmers voiced fears that without the workforce, crops may be left in the ground to rot and be wasted as the nation moves to feed itself during the coronavirus pandemic.
They also argue that harvesting crops is skilled work and many Eastern European workers return to the same farms each year.
Up to , workers help farmers harvest their crops across the UK, the vast majority from Eastern Europe. Only 18 – 24% of those workers are based in the UK and the rest fly in for the season.
Many farmers have tried hard over the years to recruit British workers but following a period of high employment have found it hard.
The Feed the Nation campaign has said it is working to find farming jobs for people from mid to late May onwards.
Following the coronavirus crisis, 1.4 million people have claimed Universal Credit and and millions more have been temporarily suspended from work on reduced pay.
At the same Downing Street news conference, Mr Eustice also said there were isolated cases of trade being disrupted by the coronavirus crisis, including goods coming from India.
He said supermarkets had increased the number of delivery lots from 2.1 million to 2.6 million, with the aim of boosting that number to 2.9 million.
More than , (businesses have applied for the
Firms impacted by the COVID – crisis are able to claim for government cash to pay 87% of each employee’s wages, up to £ 2, per month.
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