Shortage of eastern European labour in Britain

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By Seamus Kearney
Shortage of eastern European labour in Britain

The harsh reality of Brexit for farmers in the UK.

Divorce from the European Union has not even happened yet but already there is a shortage of eastern Europeans who would normally be relied on for fruit picking.

Peter Bawn, the General Manager of Newmafruit Farms in Kent was asked what would happen to the fruit on his trees if not picked.

“If it’s not picked it’ll just fall onto the floor and be wasted,” he said.

And it is not just his fruit operation; it is reported many across the country are short of some 15,000 workers who do jobs that do not attract the British.

Bawn said: “They don’t want to do this work. I advertise every day of the year for British people but I don’t get any applicants.”

A Danish reporter asked him: “So if you weren’t getting pickers from eastern Europe?”

“We would not be able to farm like this at all,” said Bawn. “I would have no farm because there would be no work done.”

Some eastern European workers spoken to said there was uncertainty over Brexit and the fall of the pound also makes the work less attractive.

Many farms say more than 90 percent of their manual labour is done by eastern Europeans and the government will have to find an arrangement to make sure they are still welcome in the UK after Brexit.