Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:21 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Meri Åhlberg:

As Caroline said earlier, we recognise that if these schemes are being brought in, they need to be made to work as well as possible for workers, and there are definitely protections that can be put in place. One of the key ones is that workers have to be able to change employers freely, under reasonable terms. Wages and standards should be set together in a tripartite way, together with trade unions, Government and employers, so that considerations that are particular to agricultural workers are taken into account.

There is already good work in the agricultural sector, such as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority licencing labour providers. Anyone who wants to bring workers into the UK, no matter whether they are in the UK or overseas, has to have a licence and to follow specific terms and conditions. Those conditions include, for instance, the fact that they are not allowed to charge recruitment fees. We need to make sure that the GLAA can properly licence overseas recruitment agencies, and that they have the resources and capacity to do so. Currently, for example, if the seasonal workers pilot is being opened to all countries outside the EU, that becomes a monumental task. Making sure that the GLAA is able to do that task, and has the resources and capacity to do so, is crucial.