Agricultural labour supplier Concordia has warned that due to the implications of Brexit, workers from Eastern Europe are choosing to work elsewhere than the UK, putting pressure on the availability of harvest workers for the coming season.
Factors such as the weak pound and high travelling costs to the UK mean that the company, which normally supplies up to 10,000 foreign workers for some 200 farms a year could be 10 per cent worse this year. Concordia chief executive Stephanie Maurel warned the Eastern Daily Press that overall the national picture this year is likely to be “a lot, lot worse.”
Calling for urgent action from the Government to allow the recruitment of workers from countries outside the EU, such as Ukraine, she added, “The money itself is reasonable, and that doesn’t come out as a complaint when we do our surveys and focus groups. What does is that the strength of the pound means that when they convert back into euro and to local currency they’re usually better off going to Germany or Scandinavia, because Brexit has actually had an impact on the comparison rates, which is one thing.”
While may UK growers and farmers have good reputations as employers, she pointed out: “That only goes so far if you can earn more in Germany because the strength of the pound has changed.”
Ali Capper, chair of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture and potatoes board, told the newspaper that, anecdotally growers currently “have just about enough labour”, but that the industry is “very concerned” about the summer months.
Photo Caption: Concordia chief executive Stephanie Maurel