New partnership to strengthen supply of agricultural workers

17 October 2013

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18 October 2013 | Will Green

The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) and the British Growers Association (BGA) have joined forces to strengthen the supply of labour to the agricultural sector in the wake of the government’s decision to scrap the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.

The ALP and the BGA have entered into a strategic alliance to improve communication, collaboration and joint representation between the two organisations, with the aim of highlighting the importance of labour supply in the fresh produce sector.

While talks have been going on for some time, BGA chief executive James Hallett said a government move to scrap the seasonal workers scheme - which allows fruit and vegetable growers to employ migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania - had provided “added impetus”.

“The government’s decision to scrap the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme - which accounts for a third of Britain’s seasonal agricultural labour force - puts the supply of reliable and skilled workers right at the top of the industry’s agenda,” he said.

“This partnership not only represents a joint commitment to drive up standards and improve collaboration across all aspects of labour provision in the fresh produce sector, it also strengthens our voice in pressing ministers to explain how they will work with the industry to ensure enough workers can be found to carry out essential planting and harvesting operations on UK farms.”

ALP director David Camp said: “It is essential that every horticulture business which relies upon seasonal workers plans now to secure their labour supply in 2014 and beyond.”

A Home Office spokesman said: "Our policy is to allow only highly-skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area, with an annual limit. At a time of unemployment in the UK and across Europe, our unskilled and low-skilled labour needs in every sector should be met by UK and European employees."

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