Why won’t Brits pick vegetables for £30 an hour?

My late father did peace work on the forestry commission they had a range of jobs he said first week on a job you made nothing but basic second week you made a little bonus third week you made a wage you were happy with , 4th week they moved you onto something else as it was costing to much in wages 😂 , he described it as great fun/camaraderie but really was white slavery .
I worked on a farm in Western Australia, the farmers father came over to Oz from Buckinghamshire, and apparently got his start unloading bags of corn off the railway for a penny a bag. Others worked for a few days, then when they a wedge of money went off to the pub and stayed there until it was all spent. James said his father saved every penny, and used it for a start to buy his first land (I think his three sons farmed about 20 000 acres)
 

farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
We need seasonal migrant workers to fill seasonal migrant roles. What good are seasonal jobs for rooted domestic workers who have to a years employment to fill within a reasonable commute. Its dumbf**kery of the highest order to think we don't need EU migrant workers to fill these roles. Nigel Farage should be frog marched out to work in the cabbage fields and repent....
 

Mc115reed

Member
As @delilah says, what happens if you don't live close enough for a reasonable commute (cars are expensive for young people to run) where do you live and how much does it cost?
I’m sure MR Simmons could put you up in a static caravan with 10 other Lithuanians who have hot water for 10 minutes in a morning too spread between them all and charge you £500 a month each for the privilege.. that is the real reason there’s no brits picking on these fruit and veg farms… they pay bloody well but then claw there money back in accommodation expenses and they can’t do that with locals!
 

kiwi pom

Member
Location
canterbury NZ
No different than here with piece rates for orchard work, those that are prepared to put the effort in earn a good rate, equivalent to the one quoted in the article.
I have limited experience of orchards but I did pick apples at a local one for two months this year as they were short and were willing to allow people to do school hours. Obviously us locals were on minimum wage (which is pretty good really) but there were a few 'professional pickers' from the islands, who we were told were on bin rate and could make a fortune, so I watched them with interest. The supervisor told me the bin rate and what they needed to do but none got close as far as I could see.
After a lot of questions the supervisor gave in and said although the bin rate had been made easier because of the poor crop, the pros were getting topped up to minimum wage most days.
I believe their accommodation came out of that too.
The hours were 7.30 til 5.30 6 days a week, 2 ten minute breaks and half an hour lunch. 30+ degrees some days, mostly ladder work under nets.
I'm sure other orchards are different.
 

Muddyroads

Member
Location
Devon
We only do a small amount of veg compared to most but labour is my biggest concern in the short to medium term. All who help us out are local. They were easier to recruit last year than this. Very few will do more than 4 hours at a time so we work around that. If we had to do 5 or 6 8 hour days a week it would never work.
2000 cabbages a day to do in 5 days from Thursday, will be a bit of a test for a few.
 

kiwi pom

Member
Location
canterbury NZ
My own crops, but would be happy to work for someone else but too busy.

Always amuses me when some kid on a Fendt thinks he higher up the pecking order than me.
I don't mind manual work at all, a lot of farms I worked on when I was younger did a lot of manual stuff, but it was different to just doing the same thing all day, picking fruit and veg, the variety broke it up.
I'm to old and fat now to do the hard stuff, still happily go on a grading line all day though.
 

JP1

Member
Livestock Farmer
I never saw Brexit as having anything to do with preventing foreign workers from coming here. In fact au contraire we should now be free to welcome workers from wherever we like including the commonwealth and I am sure this will happen once the dust settles. Most importantly we will manage immigration to fill vacancies as we see fit, not as Brussels sees fit.
Including the ability to pass an English language test set at a doctor level ?
 

Jonp

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Gwent
I never saw Brexit as having anything to do with preventing foreign workers from coming here. In fact au contraire we should now be free to welcome workers from wherever we like including the commonwealth and I am sure this will happen once the dust settles. Most importantly we will manage immigration to fill vacancies as we see fit, not as Brussels sees fit.
Yes our plan now is to allow only high skilled workers in, like doctors, scientists, nurses,engineers etc, thus depriving the countries they were trained in (usually poorer countries than the UK) the benefit of that training. Saves us from the expense of training our own!
 

stewart

Member
Horticulture
Location
Bay of Plenty NZ
I have limited experience of orchards but I did pick apples at a local one for two months this year as they were short and were willing to allow people to do school hours. Obviously us locals were on minimum wage (which is pretty good really) but there were a few 'professional pickers' from the islands, who we were told were on bin rate and could make a fortune, so I watched them with interest. The supervisor told me the bin rate and what they needed to do but none got close as far as I could see.
After a lot of questions the supervisor gave in and said although the bin rate had been made easier because of the poor crop, the pros were getting topped up to minimum wage most days.
I believe their accommodation came out of that too.
The hours were 7.30 til 5.30 6 days a week, 2 ten minute breaks and half an hour lunch. 30+ degrees some days, mostly ladder work under nets.
I'm sure other orchards are different.
Orchards are different as are the pickers, some orchards are easier than others and some pickers are better than others, a good picker can earn very good money during the season a poor (idle) picker would struggle to earn the minimum wage. Back packers are generally very good, they do tend to have youth on their side though.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
I have done that sort of work nearly all my life. I am too old and fat now but I can do £30 an a hour speed, only for 6 hours though. I have met a lot of good workers also capable of that kind of speed both British and foreign, it is very rare to come across one that can do it beyond 6/7 hours. Pretty much all the fast workers I have known have stopped after 6 hours even if they had more work in front of them.
It would be 6 days a week, or maybe 6 and a half, but yes the good workers could do it every day
Many years ago alot of us went fruit-picking during the holidays, for uni [motocross] funds etc

I was taking as much pay home then (late 90s) as I do now driving a truck, and it was a matter of getting your hands to work fast and not stopping.

I bloody loved it TBH not because it was stimulating and the girls were pretty, but really because it was something completely different and with a diverse group of people to chatter away with. Days went very fast
 

Barleymow

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Ipswich
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DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Yes our plan now is to allow only high skilled workers in, like doctors, scientists, nurses,engineers etc, thus depriving the countries they were trained in (usually poorer countries than the UK) the benefit of that training. Saves us from the expense of training our own!
My dentist is Romanian. He was here before BREXIT and he is still here after BREXIT. He is doing further training at a university hospital here as he can’t get that level of training in Romania.
The educational establishments of this country train thousands of foreign students every year. Where they decide to work is up to them.
I don’t entirely agree that immigrants went back because of BREXIT. It was covid that shutdown flights and an improving economic situation back home that kept them away.
I’ll also add that the biggest theft in history of lead from church roofs in this region was by an itinerant gang of Lithuanians who had every right to “work” and settle here before Brexit. IMO it’s no bad thing at all that we can now “manage” immigration from the EU rather than it being a free for all where criminal gangs came in under the cover EU free movement rules.
Things will sort themselves out once the dust settles.
 

pellow

Member
Location
Newquay
Cornwall has low frost risk because of sea insulation, post war lots of farmers grew winter brassicas that would fill the gap in frost season south east England, these brassicas would be shipped to markets and collection centres, the farmers would have their own small gangs of UK cutters and packers

Around 20 years ago the supermarkets decided to contract all their produce to 3 growers, David Simmons in the article being one of them, the only reason they could scale their businesses up to the size required was cheap foreign labour, all the local cutters and packers disappeared into other jobs

I was in the Crossroads motel with 235 Cornish brassica growers in 1999 for a meeting when the price crashed because of no market for it, now you could get all the growers around a table in the pub, with more grown than before
 

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