British jobs for Bulgarian and Romanian workers

 
Agricultural workers Farmers in the Midlands are hiring thousands of workers from eastern European countries

Unemployment is running at 9% in the Midlands, and it's more than twice that among 16-24 year olds.

So how can it be right that local farmers are employing thousands of workers who have travelled here from eastern Europe to harvest the crops?

At one farm in Worcestershire this week, of more than 140 workers in a field of spring onions and peas, only seven were English.

More than 21,000 of the workers coming into this country to carry out low-skilled work on farms are from Bulgaria and Romania.

Food shortage?

They are allowed to work in agriculture for up to six months under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, a quota system designed to control migration from accession countries joining the EU.

Start Quote

Fields

Without another scheme to replace the current one, there is a real possibility of a food shortage because there will be nobody to pick the crops”

End Quote Stephen Watkins Farmer

Ababi Mircea from Romania has a degree in economics but is unable to find a job in his home country.

"The money I make here in one week I make in Romania in one month," he says.

The farmer, Stephen Watkins, explains that the eastern Europeans are hard-working and reliable.

But when the scheme expires next year, Bulgarian and Romanian workers will no longer be confined to farm work and Mr Watkins is worried they will look instead for better-paid work in our towns and cities.

He told us: "Without another scheme to replace the current one, there is a real possibility of a food shortage because there will be nobody to pick the crops."

This is despite the fact that of 170,000 people out of work in the West Midlands, almost 11,000 live in Worcestershire.

Home-grown workers

While resisting any temptation to parrot Gordon Brown's notorious "British jobs for British workers" sound bite, the West Worcestershire MP, Harriett Baldwin, a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, says:

"These are solid jobs, they pay well. It is hard work but you are there for a season and you go home with a lump sum of cash.

"I would rather see that staying in the UK."

Start Quote

Harriett Baldwin

These are solid jobs, they pay well... I would rather see that staying in the UK ”

End Quote Harriett Baldwin MP

Mr Watkins says that "it would be great to offer more jobs to British workers but they do not want to do them".

So what's to be done?

Should our farmers hope the EU can agree yet another scheme, this time looking even further east to another accessions nation, Macedonia?

And what does it all say about our own home-grown workforce?

Add your comments to this blog post so that I can refer to them during our main talking point on this week's Sunday Politics programme.

I will be joined by the following guests:

And I hope you will join us too, from 12.00 GMT on BBC One on Sunday, 17 June 2012.

 
Patrick Burns, Political editor, Midlands Article written by Patrick Burns Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    The practice of hiring employees from Eastern Europe, for different agriculture jobs in the English farms,dates back from many years ago. The employees from the foreign countries are hard workers and I think that both parties are satisfied at the end, so something definitely should be done!
    Movers

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    can anyone tell us how much these good wages are please?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    Britons -the new aborigines;the new underclass within their own borders,swept aside by politicians anxious to destroy the indigenous working class population in favour of more malleable migrants.The only immigration policy that will serve the needs of all the British people-black,white .mixed race-is total cessation starting now

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    Farm work in US by comparison is mostly done by Mexican migrants, legal or illegal, for the same reasons though as these mentioned here. Does anyone knows how one can apply for farm work in UK? Thank you.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 15.

    Farmer's aren't importing Romanians because they want to, it's because they have to, since Brits won't do the work - I would, because to me having a job and looking after myself, and not expecting the state to pay for me is in my ethos - but then again I'm 50+.

    Sadly it's fools like me who pay for the bone idle through my taxes.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    In response to Michael Watson, unemployed ... has he applied for farm work and been refused? If not, then he has no right to complain about others, from other countries, being prepared to do the work he will not or cannot do.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    In response to freindleonewhocares and the workers sending their money home. I have personally come across several polish workers doing this. They work 12 hour shifts on farms, do not party and throw up every saturday night. They say cost of living in Poland is same as here but wages are only £250 per month, so they live frugally, benefit our economy through hard work, and benefit their families.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 12.

    In response to P Johnston's earlier comment ... Who did the work before EU enlargement created a labour pool in eastern Europe? British men and women, 'travellers' and any that wanted extra money on top of their regular day job. Post WWII people worked 12-16 hour shifts to help themselves and help the country, often taking on 2 or 3 jobs, cashing-in on the summer harvests to pay for the winter.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 11.

    Farm work is too physically demanding for youngsters being brought up to expect and demand ofiice/white collar jobs. The current emphasis on university/college degrees has contributed to this. The farmer is right ... lazy UK workers now shun manual labour, and the benefits system allows them to do so. I applaud polish, romanian and other europeans for showing self-pride and a strong work ethic.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 10.

    Don't understand whats up with the 20somethings in England I worked on farms in kent and Gloucestershire 20 odd years ago with my girlfriend at the time and lived in a tent having come down from the north it was a good laugh and earned some coin put money in the bank got working holiday visa to oz and did same there harder in oz. Come its a fair days pay for fair days work .

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 9.

    Out of work been appling for work for over a year. Having my first interview today after a year of trying. Their are people that want to work and are better then imigrants. Stop bashing british unemployed and help them do these jobs and not press gang into them.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 8.

    And there lies the story .... EU economic migrants!! So, a week's pay in the UK is approximately the same as a month's pay in Romania. Bearing in mind that a UK week's pay at minimum wage is just that... which I assume is that being paid to these workers; why, as a UK citizen would I want to work and displace a poor economic migrant? Enough said.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 7.

    This just illustrates what many British people,but not our leaders,know,that these hard working Eastern Europeans take and or send all their money home,So I ask,How does this help our economy?? as we are continually being told this from of immigration does.As for British not wanting the work,simple,stop ALL benefits if work is refused.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    Mr Watkins says that "it would be great to offer more jobs to British workers but they do not want to do them".

    Who did the work before EU enlargement created a labour pool in eastern Europe?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 5.

    What a picture! I hope I can follow the programme (from Bulgaria).

    A welcome, fresh look at what educated, motivated and hard-working Bulgarians & Romanians make to the essential economy of the UK; instead of whinging about 'scroungers, cheats and pick-pocket's. Congratulations on your journalism, Mr. Burns. You motivated me:
    http://philinsofia.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/why-i-get-angry-at-times/

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 4.

    Most Romanians would prefer to go back to Romania instead of living on benefits in the U.K. They have families and friends there and only leave the country to better themselves either by working hard to save some money and go back to build a house, start their own business,study and be good citizens,etc.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 3.

    40 in a container split shifts but as they say 4 x more than there own countrie health and safty out the window but who cares and they all club to getter to get a morgae bet it goes through

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 2.

    Where will these Bulgarian and Romanians be in the closed picking
    season ? Financed by the Taxpayer to stay ? Or will they go back
    home to spend the earnings.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1.

    Whilst these jobs are available those who would rather hang around on benefits should see their benefits progressively reduced. I don't think people realise the necessity of working, certainly under present circumstances. The Guardian reports "DWP says 46% of jobseekers either signed off benefits or failed to turn up rather than start the (unpaid work) placement." This is a shocking statistic.

 

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