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Eastern Europeans to be flown in to pick fruit and veg


Eastern European farm workers are being flown to the UK on charter flights to pick fruit and vegetable crops.

Air Charter Service has told the BBC that the first flight will land on Thursday in Stansted carrying 150 Romanian farm workers.

The firm told the BBC that the plane is the first of up to six set to operate between mid-April and the end of June.

Government department Defra said it was encouraging people across the UK "to help bring the harvest in".

British farmers recently warned that crops could be left to rot in the field because of a shortage of seasonal workers from Eastern Europe. Travel restrictions due to the coronavirus lockdown have meant most workers have stayed at home.

Several UK growers have launched a recruitment drive, calling for local workers to join the harvest to prevent millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables going to waste. However concerns remain that they won't be able to fulfil the demand on farms.

The Air Charter Service, a private firm, has already arranged flights for seasonal workers in other countries. It flew 1,000 farm workers to Germany from Bulgaria and Romania in recent weeks.

The workers will board in Iasi, eastern Romania, after having their temperatures taken and filling out a health questionnaire. The BBC understands that they will be taken from the airport by minibuses to farms in the south east and the Midlands.


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