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Worker scheme set to finish
MINISTER for State at the Home Office, Mark Harper, has confirmed that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) will not be extended beyond its current end date of December 31, 2013.
Many in the horticultural, fruit and vegetable sectors claim the scheme is a vital source of labour and the decision has prompted fears that the industry will suffer from a labour shortage next year.
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “Our grower members will be rightly outraged at this decision by the immigration minister which will have a devastating impact on the horticulture sector in the UK.
“Make no mistake, this will cause a contraction in the British horticulture sector, a sector which is already suffering from falling self-sufficiency levels.
“It will put thousands of existing permanent UK jobs at risk, stifle growth, compromise food security and jeopardise the industry’s efforts to take on hundreds more UK unemployed people for permanent work.”
Mr Harper said: “Growers will have unrestricted access to Bulgarian and Romanian workers from next year. Since the controls were lifted on workers in the eight member states that joined the EU in 2004, those workers have continued to form the core of the seasonal agricultural workforce.
“At present, UK growers recruit about onethird of their seasonal workers from the EU2 and about one half from the EU8.
“Seasonal agricultural work can pay good wages and the sector should be able to attract and retain UK and EEA workers.
“Our migration policy is to allow only highly-skilled workers from outside the EEA, with an annual limit of 20,700 workers.
Unskilled and low-skilled labour needs should be satisfied from in the EEA labour market.”
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