Martin Haines said that post-Brexit, he lost more than half of his permanent staff at Castle Gardens in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Also, according to him, the six-month temporary visas do not go far enough. He is calling on the government to extend the amount of time seasonal staff are allowed to stay in the UK.
"We go up from 10-12 staff to somewhere around 150. They're restricted for six months, but we have 9 to 10 months of work," explained Martin Haines, who runs WR Haines in Gloucestershire.
He said producers, along with the National Farmers Union (NFU), are pushing for the government to extend the visas to cover nine months. "The visa means they have to sit at home for five months before they can come back. We're very happy to have them, we need them. We aren't able to find enough local people to do the harvesting and the work. Having to train new people each time is a cost."
The business has to rely on permanent staff, some of which now have 'settled status.'
The government said it had increased the number of seasonal workers that can work in the UK to 45,000 this year, with an option of another 10,000 should demand call for it. But it said it currently has no plans to extend the six-month limit.
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