Scottish Affairs Committee visit Perthshire to hear how horticulture industry is being affected by changes to seasonal work rules
The Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) visited several horticulture businesses in Perthshire on Monday 28 February to hear how the industry is being affected by changes to seasonal work rules. The visit comes amid growing concerns that new UK Government proposals will massively hamper crop production across the country, putting food security at risk.
The UK government proposals state that all participants in the Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme must be paid £10.26 per hour and receive an average of 48 hours of work per week for the duration of their 6 month visa. Industry heads this is unfeasible given the unpredictable, weather dependent nature of the work, and will lead to even more widespread labour shortages. There are also calls to increase the amount of visas granted through the scheme to a minimum of 70,000 in order to adequately tackle labour shortages.
Chair of the SAC, Mr Pete Wishart, commented:
“With the growing season nearly upon us, it was incredibly useful to hear from businesses in my constituency about the current situation and what prospects this season holds. The message we received loud and clear is that the situation is critical, and these new UK government officials are only going to make things much, much worse.
“This is an industry that has been absolutely hammered by the impact of Brexit and the pandemic, with much of the crop going unpicked and left to wither in the fields over the last few years.
“In the past we had a pool of workers able to come from 20-odd countries, and now that’s a route denied to growers and agriculture businesses.
“My committee has taken a long-standing interest in this issue and a number of our reports have encouraged the Government to take action to deal with this problem and help these sectors out.
“Going forward, we will be taking the information we learnt from our visit to the Government, urging them to scrap these disastrous proposals and instead liaise with industry officials to find real, long-term solutions.”
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