ALP & BGA form alliance to strengthen horticulture labour supply
The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) and the British Growers Association (BGA) have formed an alliance to strengthen arrangements for labour supply to the UK horticulture sector.
The agreement aims to improve communication, collaboration and joint representation between the two organisations in a bid to highlight the economic importance of labour provision in the fresh produce sector, to promote best practice in the supply and management of labour, and to champion the work and career opportunities available in the UK horticulture industry.
While discussions between the two organisations have been ongoing for some time, BGA’s chief executive James Hallett said the Government’s recent and disappointing decision not to replace the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) at the end of this year gave added impetus to the move as the UK horticulture sector works to avert a potential labour crisis in the coming years.
“The Government’s decision to scrap the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme – which accounts for a third of Britain’s seasonal agricultural labour force - puts the supply of reliable and skilled workers right at the top of the industry’s agenda. This partnership not only represents a joint commitment to drive up standards and improve collaboration across all aspects of labour provision in the fresh produce sector, it also strengthens our voice in pressing ministers to explain how they will work with the industry to ensure enough workers can be found to carry out essential planting and harvesting operations on UK farms.
“The UK’s £3.7bn fresh produce industry is a high-value sector of the agri-food economy with significant potential to support the government’s drive for economic growth through improvements in productivity, efficiency and innovation. But ministers must recognise that continuing uncertainty over labour supply represents a major threat to UK growers’ future production and investment plans,” said Hallett.
“BGA will now be working closely with ALP and other key industry stakeholders to press the Government for alternative solutions which will help secure adequate and reliable staffing levels across the sector.”
ALP director David Camp said his organisation’s strategic alliance with BGA marked an important first step in tackling a potential labour shortage in the fresh produce sector.
The BGA represents UK fresh produce growers. The British horticulture sector is worth £3.7bn to the UK economy, employing over 100,000 full-time and seasonal workers.