A fruit and vegetable firm which supplies fresh produce to major supermarkets is offering £62,000 a year to fruit pickers as it seeks to address severe staff shortages.
T H Clements and Son Ltd is on the hunt for “operatives” to work all year – at the eye-popping rate of £30-per-hour.
That means fruit and veg pickers would be paid £240-per-day, £1,200-per-week, £4,800-per-month – and £62,400-per-year.
The huge pay spike comes after job site Indeed said up to 75 per cent of recruiters have boosted salaries to help plug staff shortages.
Farms and fresh produce firms are severely lacking staff due to the impacts of Covid and Brexit, which have made it more difficult for seasonal migrant workers to travel to the UK.
TH Clements and Son Ltd – which is based in Boston, Lincolnshire, posted one advert that said: “We are looking for Field Operatives to harvest our Cabbages.
“Excellent piecework rates with potential to earn up to £30 per hour and all year round work available.”
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for an urgent Covid Recovery Visa to allow firms to recruit from outside the UK to alleviate “crippling” labour shortages across the supply chain.
The head of the NFU, Minette Batters, has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that the food and farming sector is on a “knife edge” due to a shortage of workers across the entire supply chain.
The letter, signed on behalf of 12 food and drink trade bodies, urged the government to introduce a Covid-19 recovery visa to open up new recruitment opportunities as a matter of urgency.
The letter reads: “Without it, more shelves will go empty and consumers will panic buy to try to get through the winter.
“That is why we must have an urgent commitment from you to enable the industry to recruit from outside the UK over the next 12 months to get us through the winter and to help us save Christmas.”
The letter follows an emergency roundtable convened by the NFU on September 221 with representatives from the UK food supply chain to discuss the growing crisis, which has resulted in empty shelves in supermarkets and, in some cases, food left on farms unable to be picked up or processed.
It says a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa would enable all involved throughout the supply chain to recruit critical roles as a short-term response to labour shortages.
It also calls for a commitment to a permanent, revised and expanded seasonal worker scheme for UK horticulture to ensure it is flexible and large enough to meet the industry’s workforce needs.
And it wants an urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the impact of ending free movement on the food and farming sector, in the same way it is doing for adult social care.
Batters said it was “a travesty that this is happening in parallel with UK food producers disposing of perfectly edible food as it either cannot be picked, packed, processed or transported to the end customer”.
“Every day there are new examples of food waste across the industry, from chicken to pork, fruit and vegetables, dairy and many other products.
“The food is there, but it needs people to get it to the consumers,” she said.
‘Resilient supply chain’
The letter was signed on behalf of other groups such as the British Frozen Food Federation, the British Meat Processors Association, Dairy UK and the Food and Drink Federation.
A government spokesman said: “The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.
“This year we expanded the Seasonal Workers Pilot to 30,000 visas for workers to come to the UK for up to six months.
“We continue to work closely with industry to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements.
“However, we want to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.”