Time to remove the rose-tinted spectacles
Sir, – There has been a lot of debate recently over why there doesn’t seem to be enough pickers for the strawberries.
The truth is that times have changed and there is now a much more highly-pressured production system than there was when families were collected by the berry buses.
The big supermarkets push down the farmers’ prices and the farmers pass the pressure on to their workers.
Workers are paid piece rates but have to pick fast enough to make the minimum wage or they are off the fields.
It is a highly exploitative system.
To make it work the farms recruit young people from Eastern Europe who mainly stay together in caravans on the farm.
It is hard for them to complain about the pressures as they will lose their accommodation as well as their job.
However, if they can save their money it should go further when they get home.
Very few picking jobs are advertised locally.
Although it may seem somewhat absurd that these jobs aren’t going to local unemployed people, we would hardly advocate for anyone to be pushed into such exploitative work.
This is especially the case given the backdrop of a benefit system that leaves unsupported gaps whenever you sign back on after temporary employment.
Sadly this exploitation won’t end without major changes to our whole pattern of food retail and production.
Sarah Glynn. Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, c/o Castle Terrace, Broughty Ferry.
The high-pressured production system, not the lack of workers, should be taken into account in the berry-picking debate, argues one correspondent.