Flights arrive to bring Eastern European pickers to UK for farms

A private air charter firm has been retained to bring Eastern European farm workers to the UK.

From today [16 April 2020] and through to the end of June, six flights are expected to bring the workers to the UK to pick crops because of a shortage of seasonal pickers, the BBC reports.

The first 150 workers from Romania were expected to arrive at London Stansted Airport today, and will be transported by bus to farms in East Anglia to pick lettuce, the BBC was told.

Several UK growers have launched recruitment drives for local workers to ensure that millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables won’t go to waste but there are fears that there won’t be enough pickers to meet the farms’ needs.

According to the BBC, the Romanian workers bound for the UK will board after having their temperatures taken and filling out a health questionnaire. The group will also be “fully screened” on arrival in the UK, with anyone found to have a temperature to be quarantined.

At the same time, the Food and Drink Federation have called on all governments to ensure the continuation of critical imports of food and drink in the current crisis. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we keep imports and exports of food and drink flowing,” the FDF’s letter said. “Essential movements of ingredients and raw materials must continue so that we can supply consumers across the UK.”

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