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Holmen, Pirsenteret


Holly Barlow, PhD Student, Czech University of LIfe Sciences.

Topic: A study of threats to the labour market of the UK's horticultural sector


There are many fundamental issues affecting the labour market within the horticultural sector, primarily, the sector’s reliance on migrant labour is having a direct impact on the production levels within the sector. Further affect by the industries is poor perception by domestic workers, which is often seen as, hard, physical work, long hours and poor wages. Additionally, the restructuring of the supply chain has resulted in retailer dominance thereby creating increased pressure in the supply chain.  With the uncertainty of Brexit looming there has been exhaustive discussion surrounding the future of the labour sector which relies so heavily on the input on migrant workers. This paper  looks to answer why the industry has come to rely so heavily on migrant workers and how the industry can review matters and seek to improve the perception of sector with domestic workers and help to provide a secure and fair labour sector for the future.

The methods used for this research are based on an in-depth literature review surrounding all the accumulative issues involved with in the horticultural sector and the formulation of three case studies of UK vegetable crop producers. The research shows that the pressures created by the supply chain impact heavily on the industry and the consequent dependency upon a flexible, productive work force to meet the demanding deadlines created by the retailer sector. The migrant workers, often arriving from Central and Eastern Europe, under vulnerable conditions causes them to be exploitable to meet the required demands. In this instance, the reliance on migrant workers and their social positioning is fundamental to the current operation practices of the food production industry.  Horticulture is a vital cornerstone of food policy and healthy food production. Policy changes can be implemented to reduce work hours, improve pay and great better equality within levels of management.

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