26th March 2018 at 10:12 pm #1609
Two-thirds of Scottish farmers who employ migrant workers would likely have to switch to other agricultural activities if they did not have access to this workforce, a new report from by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) says.
The extensive study estimates that – last year – there were 9,255 seasonal migrant workers engaged in Scottish agriculture, with the majority involved in picking soft fruit – but also important in field vegetable and potato sectors.
In research commissioned by the Scottish Government, it was revealed that nearly two-thirds of farmers who employ migrant seasonal workers would likely have to switch to other agricultural activities if they did not have access to this workforce.
More than half, meanwhile, said they may diversify their business into non-agricultural activities.
The report recommends that both the UK and Scottish Governments make clear commitments and statements expressing support for the horticultural industry and agree the ongoing need for access to sufficient numbers of seasonal migrant workers.27th March 2018 at 10:12 am #1610
This is a really concerning report – and it won’t just affect farmers, but the care, health and hospitality industries too which also rely on migrant workers.11th April 2018 at 11:23 am #1666
Perhaps if these employers offered better pay and conditions there’d be a local workforce ready and willing to take on these jobs?20th April 2018 at 1:48 pm #1750
I agree about the pay and conditions irrespective of where the labour comes from – and for most rural work, the availability of secure affordable housing and transport. Regarding tourism, is it sensible to expand rural tourism to be serviced by a temporary, low paid seasonal migrant workforce. I have asked Visit Scotland to provide a real study of the economic value of rural tourism – but they never have. They still advocate rural tourism as an unmitigated good thing – no disbenefits, no opportunity costs.24th April 2018 at 10:42 am #1751
Anecdotally, some 15-20 years ago a friend quit a seasonal fruit-picking job after a day or two because of the horrible living conditions; when grouse beating, i’ve been put up in accommodation for a few weeks that had no hot water…
…so I agree that there are certain basic standards that need to be met when bringing in seasonal labour that is, pretty much, stuck in that rural locality for the duration of the work.
I think the eastern Europeans who have taken most of these and other basic jobs over the past decade and more find it easier to put up with the conditions because the money they made here in £s, when converted to euros and spent ‘back home’ where goods and services are cheaper, looks like a much better wage.
Economists call it ‘purchasing power parity’ and use it to justify multi-nationals setting up in east Asia and paying workers a pittance – the money paid to these workers buys a lot more in their local economy than the same amount would if paid to our workers here: hence, more profits to be made for said capitalists.
I don’t blame any local, rural workforce for opting out of back-breaking, low-wage employment on offer in some places; it can hardly help that public transport is sparse and that it costs a fortune to learn to drive then purchase, run and maintain a vehicle – unaffordable for anyone not from the middle classes.24th April 2018 at 11:00 am #1752
Would ‘accommodation and food service activities’ be a suitable proxy for the economic value of tourism to the rural economy?
There may be some information available under that heading*, but I suppose it should really include money spent on visitor attractions and… what else?
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