Peter Le Maistre, president of the Jersey Farmers’ Union, said that the flow of staff coming in from the ailing hospitality sector and elsewhere had allowed the island’s growers to continue to operate. However, the shortage of ‘skilled staff’ within the industry, largely due to the loss of traditional seasonal workers from countries such as Poland and Romania, still remains.
‘The situation with staff is that we are managing. A lot of growers have had staff come in from other sectors, like hospitality, and I think that is about 15% of our workforce right now,’ Le Maistre said. ‘That has helped. We are glad that those people have decided to come and help us, when you consider there are some who would prefer to take the money and do nothing. We are still short of skilled staff, such as tractor drivers and herdsmen, but we are all working longer hours and we are coping.’
With the Island’s businesses gradually restarting their operations as lockdown measures are eased, Le Maistre said staff shortages were becoming a concern, with dozens of workers due to return to their ‘normal’ jobs.
‘What you are seeing at the moment is that they are starting to reopen the outside tables of pubs and restaurants. I think at the moment it is not having too much of an impact on us, but there are concerns among some of the growers that they may lose staff as the restrictions are further lifted.’
He added that while foreign workers could also be allowed to return to the Island soon, he would not like this to happen before such a move was considered safe.