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UK - Agricultural workers from Ukraine may be needed

15 May 2013

Migration advisers have said the Home secretary must consider bringing in more eastern European workers or face job losses according to The Guardian  newspaper

 The home secretary, Theresa May, has been warned by the official Migration Advisory Committee (Mac) that she needs to consider bringing in more eastern European workers from countries such as Ukraine and Russia to the UK or face a sharp rise in fruit and veg prices and job losses.

British farmers should be able to recruit a sufficient number of seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers in the first one or two years after labour market restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers are lifted in December.

David Metcalf, the Mac chairman, said: "Growers, operators and workers told us that the labour supply from Bulgaria and Romania will not immediately dry up following the closure of SAWS – but there could be long-term implications that need to be addressed. The organisation believes there says there will be a lack of available seasonal migrant labour in the medium term, which will lead to a rise in labour costs and a 10-15% increase in supermarket prices.

The migration experts say the home secretary should consider replacing the seasonal workers in the scheme with labour from outside Europe – in particular countries such as Ukraine which has a high number of agricultural students.

A government spokesman said: "We shall consider the Mac's advice very carefully. However, in general we want to encourage employers to recruit from the resident labour market where possible," he said. 

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