Growers in West Sussex have warned that the horticultural sector there needs 4,000 migrants to survive in the wake of Brexit.
John Hall, Executive Officer for the West Sussex Growers Association warned of the damaging consequences of the Home Secretary’s controversial pledge to make firms employ more British people. He said 8,000 workers are employed in horticulture in West Sussex – and up to half are migrants, he told the Sussex based Argus newspaper.
Mr Hall said: “The industry is extremely concerned at this government proposal. Every big industry in the country – including us – is totally reliant on migrant workers. We do not choose to be but that is the reality. We simply cannot get enough local British workers, for a variety of good reasons. Without migrants, lots of the crops that our businesses are selling simply would not get grown and be harvested. It will cause massive problems for food and plant production. I simply do not know how businesses would be able to produce the goods.”
At the Conservative Party conference last month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced proposals to force companies to take on more British workers.
She warned that foreign workers should not be able to ‘take the jobs that British people should do.’
But Mr Hall said an estimated 4,000 people are currently employed in what the West Sussex Growers Association calls ‘basic operational jobs.’
Mr Hall said it would be many years before companies could stop relying on the migrant workforce.