Coronavirus: Foreign workers fly in 'to train UK farm pickers'

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seasonal workers
Image caption,
Many UK growers depend on seasonal migrant workers from Eastern Europe

A farming group has chartered a plane to fly in staff from Romania so the European workers can help train its seasonal UK workforce.

Grower G's has recruited 180 skilled workers who will land on Thursday.

In the past three weeks the company has recruited nearly 500 UK-based pickers to work from the end of April.

The Cambridgeshire-based group said it had followed official advice and the workers would be quarantined in small teams in its own hostel accommodation.

Air Charter Service said up to six flights could arrive by the end of June bringing Eastern European farm workers.

It follows appeals from farmers for UK workers to step up to fill the gap left by a shortage of seasonal workers, many of whom have not travelled because of the coronavirus lockdown.

G's, which has sites in East Anglia, Kent, West Sussex and the West Midlands, had joined the call for UK recruits to "feed the nation".

It said there had been a "fabulous response" to the campaign meaning two-thirds of its workforce will be from the UK this year.

The workers being flown in are skilled workers who were offered contracts at the end of last season, a spokeswoman said.

"This strategy is important to ensure the operational efficiency of the UK harvest, through returning seasonal agricultural workers allowing the teams to have a percentage of experienced workers, who will help train and keep our new workforce safe," she said.

"All Romanian workers are being brought into the UK under strict protocols; G's have worked to the best practice and advice of Public Health England and these workers will be quarantined within small working teams in our hostel accommodation."

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