Richard Hartensveld, Schenkeveld:

"Much respect for the labor migrants that remain”

The number of labor migrants working in greenhouse horticulture may only really become apparent when some of them were no longer able to travel to the Netherlands due to corona measures. “Luckily, they can still travel from Poland, but no longer from Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Bulgaria”, says Richard Hartensveld of Dutch tomato nursery Schenkeveld. “For now, we are fortunate to still have enough people available, but we are more worried about the coming period.”

Lockdown
Schenkeveld cultivates tomatoes year-round, both lighted and unlighted. “It is not like tomato growers that cultivate year-round don’t have peak periods in their harvest. Our activities also increase during the springtime and summer periods. We just harvested the first unlighted tomatoes.” The tomato nursery has about 80 permanent employees on staff, but also many flex workers. Part of the migrant workers employed go back home around Christmas time to then return around this period. “From countries other than Poland, they would also like to come back to work, but can’t because of the lockdown. Traveling is not an option.”

No Easter weekend
The Polish employees that are already in the Netherlands often go home during the long Easter weekend. “Many of them decide not to do this now. If they temporarily go to Poland, they won’t just be gone for the weekend, but three weeks. When they arrive there, they first need to be quarantined for a while. This also means they won’t have any income in those weeks. I appreciate it that they considered those things and decided to stay.”

Job market
It will become a lot busier in the next couple of weeks, and to continue all of the work solutions need to be found. “We notice there is a lot of supply coming from the ornamental cultivation industry and also construction, where a lot of temporary workers are employed, is decreasing. Other than that, a lot of temporary workers are working at Schiphol in logistics and also at the flower auctions, where trade is less now as well. Of course, we would rather work with our own, experienced employees. The pruning, leaf-cutting, and harvesting requires some experience, and teaching these skills will take at least two or three months. But we have to work with what we have and make the best of it.”

For more information: 
Schenkeveld
www.schenkeveld.co
info@schenkeveld.co


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