Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Out of work ? Ask a farmer for a job

In 1999 ‘duty free’ shopping in entry to the UK came to an end. All manner of vested interests loudly vocalised the end of a £4.5b market and forecast mass redundancies in cross channel ferry companies and the like, and massive rises in fares to compensate.

None of this came to pass, but it highlights how organisations seek to leverage their vested interests by latching on some vaguely related topic in the news, in that case the EU.

According to the Guardian (09.02.2018) the National Farmers Union is using Brexit and the EU  as a whipping boy to forecast a repeat of labour shortages last year, “with food left rotting in the fields”. Blaming brexit, and consequent uncertainties about whether EU citizens will be able to provide the necessary manpower, the NFU is citing a possible shortfall of 4,000 people.

Coincidentally, at around the same time, the Office of National Statistics published unemployment  figures for Q4 2017, which were 1.4m.

The confluence of these two things is puzzling to Grumpy. Farmers have jobs to fill, and 1.4 million people are looking for jobs, and presumably drawing some benefit paid for by tax-payers whilst doing so. So the question arise why farmers, government agencies and those without work can’t join the dots here? 

If less than 3% of those unemployed were to take up these jobs, there would be no problem. Instead, we have to ask why farmers would prefer to have the hassle of recruiting and managing foreign language speakers from Bulgaria and Romania to do this? Just how long does it take to train someone to pick fruit or other crop ?

Could it be anything to do with the fact that these immigrant workers would be happy to work hours which breach EU limits,  live in tents or multi-bunkered sheds, and take less than the minimum wage for cash in hand?

None of this adds up, but whatever the equation is, the government ought to be asking why there is no-one in more than 97% of those unemployed – 1.36m people –  able to provide this labour.