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Positive start for non-EU labour trial

01 July 2019

Initial success has been claimed for a government scheme that has recruited seasonal workers from non-EU countries, seen as a potential solution to any post-Brexit labour issues.

With clarity continuing to be awaited for details of how leaving the EU will affect workers' rights, the trial has recruited people from the Ukraine, Moldova and Russia, according to the BBC.

The scheme has resulted in 2,500 people recruited from those countries to work on farms around the UK that require seasonal labour.

Two Ukrainian recruits were interviewed by the BBC for the article, both of whom reported that they were enjoying the opportunity to work in the UK.

Cornish farm manager David Simmons stated that Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian and Bulgarian workers had previously been recruited, but the impact of improving home economies, Brexit uncertainty and less favourable economic exchange rates have seen numbers reduce.

Mr Simmons told the BBC that crops in Cornwall had not been harvested last year due to the lack of workers.

The new scheme is a test for a visa-based immigration programme for temporary workers that could have further implications for the FM sector, if this is extended to include workers for jobs outside of the agricultural industry.

Two companies are running the recruitment programme, including arranging the visas for each person, with interest from the countries included described as "phenomenal".

The National Farmers' Union has stated that the scheme could help to solve growers' recruitment issues and has asked the government to extend it to include 30,000 workers in 2020.

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