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17 Mar 2023

Fred Searle, Fruit Net

UK: "Industry-wide" taskforce incl. 50 trade bodies, retailers, producers, recruiters & non-profits aims to improve farm-workers' access to information, recruitment practices & fee charging

"New taskforce to protect seasonal worker welfare,"

An industry-wide taskforce has been set up to safeguard the rights of workers employed under the seasonal workers scheme.

The group – which includes trade bodies, retailers, growers, recruiters, and non-profits – will seek to improve the responsible recruitment and employment of migrant workers on UK farms, and work with government departments on the operation of the scheme...

Concerns have been raised in previous seasons around exploitation risks faced by some migrant workers on seasonal worker visas during their recruitment and employment...

In response to the revelations, a series of multi-stakeholder roundtables were held in autumn 2022, aimed at developing practical solutions to respond to such risks.

As a result, a number of working groups were established and a series of projects were funded by UK supermarkets with industry input.

These included regional roadshows and a toolkit for good practice, a common assessment of scheme operators, and a multi-language worker-information app, funded by the scheme operators.

Moving forward, the taskforce will focus on improving the seasonal workers scheme within its current design.

Workstreams will include: improving workers’ access to information and communication; monitoring and improving practices during recruitment and on farm; and addressing recruitment fees paid by workers and boosting their overall earnings...