The Daily Telegraph

Immigratio­n rules for turkey workers eased for Christmas


SUELLA BRAVERMAN has moved to keep a Christmas favourite on the dinner table by easing immigratio­n restrictio­ns on turkey and poultry workers.

The Home Secretary has changed immigratio­n rules so that farmers can hire foreign poultry workers to help fill staff shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

Jobs in the poultry industry will be added to the list of those eligible for seasonal worker visas, allowing employers to hire staff from overseas to fill such roles provided they are paid a minimum of £10.10 an hour and work for at least 30 hours per week.

Thousands of additional workers are required by the meat processing sector to slaughter and prepare the 10 million turkeys eaten in the UK every Christmas. However, job shortages have hit hard an industry that has traditiona­lly relied on EU staff.

Last year, it was estimated 60 per cent of poultry meat workers – 22,860 people – were EU nationals.

The shortages across farming and processing had seen a 10 per cent decrease in the supply of poultry.

Ms Braverman has warned that she wants to bring down overall migration, suggesting that her long-term ambition is to take it to the “tens of thousands” from a current total of near 240,000.

She has also urged farmers to recruit and train more domestic workers as well as adopt more automation to reduce the reliance on foreign staff.

However, in a written statement to Parliament published yesterday, Tom Pursglove, a Home Office minister, said: “The seasonal worker visa route is being expanded to include roles in the poultry sector, to support a genuine seasonal labour need in the lead up to Christmas, not evident in other sectors. Poultry workers under occupation code 5431 (butcher) or 5433 (for example, processor) must be paid at least £25,600 each year

“All other poultry workers must be paid £10.10 for each hour worked and receive at least 30 hours’ paid employment each week.”

Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council (BPC), has previously warned that British workers were reluctant to move from other parts of the country and businesses operated in high-employment areas.

He has said that when it comes to non-uk labour, there had been a reduction in the numbers willing to come to the UK, while the immigratio­n barriers of salary and skill had been raised “way beyond what we can manage”.

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