Workers offered £30 an hour to pick vegetables, while desperate bosses bid to avoid Christmas stock chaos
Workers are offered £30 an hour to pick vegetables, while desperate bosses try to curb a supply crisis before Christmas.
Farmers pay seasonal workers up to £1,000 a week – £50,000 a year – to help them dig up crops, the British Growers Association revealed.
Wages are also rising in the meat industry, with trained butchers picking up parcels up to £37,000 due to a 15,000 worker shortage.
It comes as cabinet ministers warned Britain is ‘drunk on cheap labour’ in another corporate caveat.
Top Tories used the Conservative Party Conference to criticize companies for trying to blame the government for the supply chaos.
Meanwhile, ministers were told that only 27 EU fuel tanker drivers have signed up to work in the UK under the government’s emergency scheme.
The plan to thwart the fuel crisis appears to have fallen behind as 300 visas were offered for the specialist truck drivers, demonstrating a shocking record.
Farmers pay seasonal workers up to £1,000 a week – £50,000 a year – to help them, British Growers Association revealed (file photo)
It comes as cabinet ministers warned Britain is ‘drunk on cheap labour’ in another corporate caveat. Pictured: Empty shelves in London yesterday
British Growers Association chief executive Jack Ward told the Times: ‘There is fierce competition for labor with… people stripping labor from farms to work in the hospitality industry.
“There’s a much celebrated business here in Lincolnshire where they’re now offering up to £30 an hour to pick broccoli.”
The huge wage increases are the result of an exodus of farmhands, with the National Farmers’ Union suggesting that one in eight have left the supply chain.
It has resulted in farmers putting fewer crops in the ground for the final harvest, meaning more food has been imported into Britain.
The growers’ association has asked the government whether there will be another seasonal worker permit scheme next year.
Some blame the Interior Ministry for the problems – rather than Defra – and say that many EU workers with fixed status have remained during the pandemic.
A government spokesman said: ‘This year we have expanded the seasonal worker pilot to 30,000 visas for workers to come to the UK for up to six months.
“However, we want employers to make long-term investments in the UK’s domestic workforce rather than relying on labor from abroad.”
Some blame the Interior Ministry (pictured yesterday, Interior Minister Priti Patel) for the problems, saying many EU fixed-status workers have remained during the pandemic
Some cabinet ministers were openly hostile to companies over the supply crisis at the Conservative Party conference.
Several of them would be outraged companies trying to shift the blame onto the government by pointing the finger at handling the pandemic and Brexit.
A high-ranking party source told the Telegraph that the fuel crisis and empty shelves were “a failure of the free market, not the state.”
Another told the paper: ‘They have known for five years that we are ending freedom of movement, and we have repeatedly told them not to pull the lever of uncontrolled immigration every time. But they’re drunk on cheap labour.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he couldn’t “wave a magic wand” and that companies had to adapt their supply chains.
Secretary of State Paul Scully said companies have a “collective responsibility” to solve the problems.
And State Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said they had become too dependent on too few suppliers.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured yesterday) said he couldn’t ‘wave a magic wand’ and companies had to adapt their supply chains
But they faced a quick reaction as business leaders blamed the government for “panicing” over fears the crisis will continue until Christmas.
They said they received their ‘early apology’ and had warned ministers months ago about the shortage of truck drivers.
The boss of clothing giant Next Lord Wolfson said it needed a ‘demand-driven’ immigration system – where companies can get workers from abroad on the condition that they pay a visa tax.
And Icelandic boss Richard Walker said the situation was “a self-inflicted wound” by ministers, adding that they attacked business for “panicing”.
In a further blow, ministers have been told that just 27 EU fuel tanker drivers have signed up to work in the UK under the government’s emergency scheme.
In a further blow, ministers have been told that just 27 EU fuel tanker drivers have signed up to work in the UK under the government’s emergency scheme. Pictured: Soldiers learned the ropes in East London last week
The plan to thwart the fuel crisis seems to have fallen behind as 300 visas were offered for the specialized truck drivers.
An insider told the Times ministers that they had only given the green light to the scheme because they were told the industry had workers ready to fill the places.
They added to the paper that the setback is expected to cause further delays in getting fuel back into the pumps – meaning the military will have to be used longer.
The Southeast continues to suffer from the crisis, about one in five stations has been drained.
A source said: ‘These programs were launched because the industry said they needed it. But we have yet to see the promised numbers come in.”