0.2% of the 50,000 UK workers who said they'd replace Eastern European fruit pickers actually showed up

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Thursday 30 April 2020 06:45
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(iStock)

Remember when people were so outraged by "foreigners" and "migrants" taking our jobs that we engineered an entire five-year political debacle built upon the premise?

It turns out that now we have actual proof that British people won't do these jobs – even at a time of economic and public health crisis.

Earlier this month it was revealed that workers from Eastern Europe would be flown into the UK to work as fruit pickers, given the shortage of people willing to do that job in the UK with harvest season upon us.

It last week the environment secretary, George Eustice, suggested that furloughed workers should take a second job picking said fruit.

But it seems that no one's that interested.

According to The Telegraph, only 112 of the 50,000 British people who applied for these jobs actually showed up. That's 0.22 per cent.

The Alliance of Ethical Labour Providers, one of the main contract suppliers to farms, received 50,000 applications, of which only 6,000 completed the video interview.

Out of those 6,000, 900 people were offered jobs, which is not bad going... but only 112 accepted.

Greville Richards, managing director of Southern England Farms in west Cornwall, told The Telegraph that "when it comes to the nitty-gritty" there will be even fewer left.

He said:

If there are good people out there who want to come, then we'll take them. It’s hard work and it’s long hours but it’s good money. It gets my back up when they say people are coming here on the cheap.

They do earn their money, they work hard but what is concerning is that that is putting off a percentage of the British workers. That is what we are finding quite difficult.

Riviera Produce in Cornwall had similar concerns, stating that 5am starts and gruelling physical labour in all kinds of weather conditions can lead workers to drop out. There are 200 workers from Eastern Europe who worked through the winter, but it's a struggle to find enough UK workers to make up the numbers.

Britain needs up to 90,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming harvest. Farms previously relied on Eastern European workers to make up as much as a 90 per cent of their workforce.

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