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2 Jun 2024

By Holly Bancroft, The Independent (UK)

UK: Migrants on Seasonal Worker Visa to work on farms at risk of bullying and sexual harassment, report finds

“Vulnerable workers coming to UK in post-Brexit deal at risk of bullying and sexual harassment, report finds”

Migrant fruit and vegetable pickers coming to the UK to work on farms are being bullied and sexually harassed, a report on the seasonal worker visa scheme has found.

Testimonies from workers detail rape threats and harassment in a “pervasive” environment of bullying and humiliation on UK farms, with workers reporting passing out due to work conditions and having wages withheld.

Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) says it raised concerns about the plight of tens of thousands of workers when a visa scheme was launched five years ago – and that the new research demonstrates the consequences of the government’s failure to act.

The workers, many of whom came from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan, described “constant yelling” as a part of working life.

A small number of pickers said they were sexually harassed, with two telling researchers they were expected to provide regular sexual services to their employer.

Two workers said they had been sexually harassed by other pickers on the farm…

In the new report, researchers at FLEX interviewed 83 migrant workers and received 399 survey responses from people on the seasonal worker visa route between June 2022 and October 2023…