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UK urged to protect post-Brexit seasonal farm workers from slavery

Author: Lin Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 3 December 2018

"UK urged to protect post-Brexit seasonal farm workers from slavery", 28 November 2018

Seasonal migrant workers employed under a British government scheme to minimise labour shortages after Brexit must be protected from debt bondage and slavery, campaigners and lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Critics say the pilot scheme to allow 2,500 migrants from non-European Union nations to work on farms for up to six months is “fundamentally flawed” because the upfront visa and travel costs could leave workers vulnerable to debt bondage.

Tying workers to employers in the agricultural sector may also encourage exploitation as they may be reluctant to report abuse fearing deportation...

Challenged on the issue in parliament... Britain’s interior minister Sajid Javid pledged to keep it in mind.

... the government is scrambling to ensure firms have enough workers to fill the gap once Britain leaves the EU in March and free movement ends...

Agriculture is high-risk as it relies on low-skilled seasonal workers who sometimes face exploitative wages, unsanitary working and living conditions and even physical attacks from supervisors...

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