English apples to rot on trees due to immigration laws
As we hear that unemployment in the UK is to hit 2 million we have a story that confirms much of the UK farming industry is kept going by the exploitation of foreign workers. As the euro strengthens against the pound many foreign workers are giving the UK a wide berth when it comes to fruit and vegetable harvesting.
With unemployment amongst British workers so high what is stopping the recruitment of Brits to these jobs - too low pay or too hard work?
Apple growers fear labour shortages could force them to leave fruit rotting on trees because of government restrictions on the number of foreign workers allowed into Britain as pickers.
As harvesting of the earliest varieties gets under way, farmers are 'extremely concerned' about attracting sufficient people to work through until the end of the season in mid-October. They are predicting a labour shortfall and blame it on a combination of the government slashing the number of foreign students allowed to work and the strength of the euro against the pound.
'If we can't get the pickers, there is a grave danger that apples will be left on trees and over-mature. Frankly, by then it won't be worth the cost of picking them, so they will be left unpicked,' said Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, which represents 430 growers. 'That would be an absolute tragedy and quite shocking at a time when there are reports of food shortages.'