The UK government has extended a seasonal workers pilot programme, first launched in 2019, for an additional year. The government has increased the number of visas it will issue to seasonal agricultural workers to 30,000. The visas, however, come at a high price. Also, Romanians and Bulgarians, as well as Estonians, Lithuanians and Slovenians, will pay more for them than other EU citizens.
Government officials say these workers will play a vital role in helping horticulture growers pick and package their produce, whilst reducing their reliance on migrant labour as the country comes to terms with its painful exit from the EU.
However, the high price of the permits (£244) may be far beyond many potential short-term workers, especially those from the east of Europe. Moreover, while the citizens of most EU countries – as well as Turks and Macedonians – are offered a £55 reduction, Bulgarians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Romanians and Slovenians are not.
When Emerging Europe asked the UK Home Office why citizens of those five countries were being charged more than other EU members, we were referred to the Council of Europe’s Social Charter (CESC) of 1961, which those countries have not ratified.
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