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24 September 2014

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Shenfield Strawberry Fair

General statement

This statement has been released in response to BBC Hereford and Worcester's migrant workers series.

At S&A Produce, we are very proud of our business and the people who work for us to help us grow, harvest and pack over 22 million punnets of the highest quality UK Strawberries every year.

It is important to recognise that in terms of scale, we employ approximately 3,900 seasonal workers each year, many of whom return year after year. Produce in excess of 10,000 tonnes of UK grown produce, as well as contribute over £14 million to the local economy. We are the largest employer of people within our area and as such, expect to receive a higher level of media attention than other employers in the area. Whilst we're happy to comment fully on the issues raised, we do not feel that the BBC has these issues in proportion to the size of our business and does not give a fair representation of the working environment we work so hard to provide.

We are very proud of the hard work and effort that goes into ensuring that we run a professional and highly ethical business. We have very positive relationships with the Transport and General Workers Union, Ethical Trading Initiative, and are regulated by the Agricultural Wages Board. In addition, we also have very positive relationships with the local Police and NHS Trust, to whom we're extremely grateful of their support.

At a recent open day which we held, we were delighted by the number of people who took the time to visit us and understand how our business works. Following this event we received several pieces of positive feedback from local people and felt encouraged that our actions had been noticed. More recently, the Ethical Trading Initiative has been conducting a thorough audit on our practices and facilities to which the feedback is again very positive. Finally we have been chosen by the Home Office again to be an Administrator of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme of which we are very proud.

In terms of social responsibility, we provide a team of trained security staff to ensure our people and neighbours are provided with a safe and secure environment. Whilst we acknowledge that many of our people are young and regularly like to enjoy themselves, we also ensure that our facilities and the people who use them are kept safe and secure.

We are constantly looking at ways in which we can improve our business however many initiatives can not be implemented due to planning restrictions. Despite the planners having given recommendation for approval to every application we have submitted, the councillors who form the committee have been obstructive in rejecting them. In every instance, this prevents our business from improving the facilities for our people and that of our neighbours. With planning consent, we could invest even more in the facilities and the business to make S&A produce an even better place to work.

last updated: 28/11/07

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