Labour de­mand soars by 20pc as dairy farm­ers strug­gle to cope with work­load

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

DE­MAND for ex­tra work­ers on farms this spring­time surged by a fur­ther 20pc, ac­cord­ing to Farm Re­lief Ser­vices (FRS).

The num­ber of work­ers re­quired soared in the dairy strongholds of Cork, Wa­ter­ford, Kilkenny, Lim­er­ick and up into Wick­low.

“We’ve never had as many op­er­a­tors on the ground as we have at this minute,” said Pádraig Mad­den of FRS. “It is grow­ing all the time — we are up 15-20pc year on year.”

He said they have been work­ing hard to try and sup­ply the ex­tra labour re­quired. “We took on 200 ex­tra peo­ple in the spring — the vast ma­jor­ity were Ir­ish,” he said, adding some had come from New Zealand, whilst they also had some stu­dents on work ex­pe­ri­ence from a Lithua­nian univer­sity.

“We are work­ing with New Zealand to bring peo­ple in on ex­change pro­grammes. Ire­land is be­ing de­vel­oped as a top class des­ti­na­tion for stu­dents on cour­ses in East­ern Europe.”

Tea­gasc has es­ti­mated that more than 6,000 peo­ple will need to en­ter the in­dus­try by 2025 as dairy herds ex­pand.

Mr Mad­den said milk­ing skills cour­ses had taken place in Kil­dal­ton and Ca­van, while cour­ses are due to take place in Clon­akilty and Pal­laskenry.

He said there were plans to bring more cour­ses to Meath, Ca­van and Louth. Mr Mad­den said there was a lot of po­ten­tial there and they were “con­fi­dent” it would de­liver work­ers.

Mean­while, Philip Tal­lon, Dawn Meats op­er­a­tions man­ager, said the fac­to­ries were “strug­gling” with a “labour cri­sis” cur­rently.

“Unem­ploy­ment is at an all­time low, when this hap­pened the last time we were able to take in non-EU work­ers, now we are not able to so. We are work­ing with var­i­ous agen­cies IBEC, MII and hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try to see if we can get work­ers from out­side Europe — Brazil, Ukraine to bring in and help out with the labour short­age.”

Mr Tal­lon said they were ac­tively re­cruit­ing in East­ern Europe but they pre­ferred to work in the main­land of Europe. “The dif­fer­en­tial be­tween the wage in Ire­land and the wage in Europe has nar­rowed,” he said, adding they would need up to 500 work­ers over the year.

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