The owner of the farm spent £ 40,000 to steal 150 Romanian fruit pickers from the UK to teach the British Army how to do it.

An agricultural boss said his company had spent £ 40,000 transporting 150 experienced Romanian farm workers to the UK to teach unqualified British fruit and vegetable pickers how to harvest.

Anthony Gardiner, boss of G’s Growers, says the situation is getting desperate because their regular land force of foreign workers is locked up in their own country.

His company chartered a Titan Airways AirBus 320 flight to bring the “critically important” picking team to the UK, which landed at Stansted Airport yesterday.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents more than 30,000 landowners and rural businesses, has launched a national appeal for the British to join a new “ army ” of farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables in the middle of the coronavirus closure.

To date, more than 32,000 people have registered – but only about 4,000 have actually chosen to interview a job.

According to recruiting company Concordia, some of the reasons for the job refusal were the length of the contract, the location of the farm and the inability to work full time due to caring responsibilities.

Farm workers at G's Growers plant celery in a field near Ely, Cambridgeshire, Friday morning after the company chartered a robbery of Romanian workers to work in fields in the UK.

Farm workers at G’s Growers plant celery in a field near Ely, Cambridgeshire, Friday morning after the company chartered a robbery of Romanian workers to work in fields in the UK.

Farmer tells how his company spent £ 40,000 on a charter flight to send Romanian workers to the UK to teach British fruit pickers

Farmer tells how his company spent £ 40,000 on a charter flight to send Romanian workers to the UK to teach British fruit pickers

The young Romanians, a mixture of men and women, were then transported by bus to the company's 7,000 hectare super farm in East Anglia before the picking season started on Monday. Pictured: workers on site Friday

The young Romanians, a mixture of men and women, were then transported by bus to the company’s 7,000 hectare super farm in East Anglia before the picking season started on Monday. Pictured: workers on site Friday

The 150 Romanians, described as “crucial” workers, were flown to Stansted Airport yesterday on a chartered flight organized by the agricultural company G’s Growers

Gardener said they were desperately needed to help the company’s 500 newly recruited UK workers to upgrade and comply with food and hygiene standards.

And he admitted that it was the first time since Margaret Thatcher’s time in the 1980s that British workers outnumbered foreigners on her farms.

Speaking to MailOnline, the agricultural boss said: “ This is why we decided to organize our own flight to bring people from Romania. In the past three weeks, we have offered 500 jobs to residents of the United Kingdom.

“It’s going really well. Our season will intensify in the coming weeks and we are continuing our campaign to recruit more.

Anthony Gardiner is boss at G's Growers

Anthony Gardiner is boss at G’s Growers

“We expect 60% of the people we bring will be residents of the UK – but you can’t run a business with completely new people.

“You have to have experienced people who know what they’re doing.

“They will help keep the new arrivals on pace and comply with food hygiene and safety standards.”

He added: “ The last time we saw a majority of Britons picking in the fields was at the very end of the 1980s.

“We hope that this year we will have two-thirds of our workforce in Britain, but you need an experienced nucleus for newcomers. It’s not just picking.

“You need food safety knowledge to do it right.”

Meanwhile, Beverly Dixon, the company’s director of human resources, said, “By taking this flight, we are honoring our commitment to those who have worked with us for many years.

“These Romanian workers know about food security. They will provide the platform while we train the British.

“They are crucial for harvesting crops, in this case gem lettuces. They will support our effectiveness in training new UK staff. Without them, the crops would rot in the fields. “

This comes as agricultural bosses warned that British crops could “rot in the fields” unless 80,000 agricultural workers were found.

Gardiner said migrant workers were needed to help British recruits keep pace and comply with food and hygiene standards. Pictured: migrant workers will live at Barway Inn on the site of G's Growers farm

Gardiner said migrant workers were needed to help British recruits keep pace and comply with food and hygiene standards. Pictured: migrant workers will live at Barway Inn on the site of G’s Growers farm

Employees of the Barway Inn pay £ 57.40 per week for their own room, which is equipped with a kettle and fridge-freezer with self-contained facilities including microwaves and hobs

Employees of the Barway Inn pay £ 57.40 per week for their own room, which is equipped with a kettle and fridge-freezer with self-contained facilities including microwaves and hobs

About 80,000 workers are needed each summer to work the fields, with British farmers generally able to hire European seasonal workers.

Newcomers from Romania moved to their hostel today on the site of the G’s Growers vegetable packaging plant and head office in Barway near Ely, Cambridgeshire.

A worker who asked not to be named told MailOnline, “We are treated well and paid well. The unemployed British workers are expected to join us.

“Working in the fields can be difficult and tiring, but you have the sun on your back and it gets you in shape.

“It may sound a little crazy that we are going to show the British how to work in their own country – but we are eager to do it.

It will be good for them to be in the fields instead of watching television.

G’s Growers has relied on seasonal workers almost exclusively from Eastern Europe in recent years to harvest and package their products, most of whom travel to the UK in their own cars to work each summer.

Workers at G's Growers are paid at least a living wage - £ 8.72 an hour for those over 25, and the most efficient pickers can expect to earn up to £ 15 an hour.

Workers at G’s Growers are paid at least a living wage – £ 8.72 an hour for those over 25, and the most efficient pickers can expect to earn up to £ 15 an hour.

But the coronavirus pandemic has led airlines to cancel their flights and close their land borders, preventing their normal staff from making the trip.

Instead, the company has launched a desperate campaign to attract British workers and has so far offered 500 jobs to British residents.

The campaign targets students who cannot return to university until September.

But he still wanted a proportion of experienced workers from Eastern Europe to help teach and encourage inexperienced Britons in their new role as agricultural workers.

Other flights are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

G’s Growers has the majority of its sites in the flat marshes of Cambridgeshire, but also operates in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, West Sussex and West Midlands

A fruit picker wearing gloves and a face mask sits on the coach this afternoon ready to go to a farm in East Anglia

A fruit picker wearing gloves and a face mask sits on the coach this afternoon ready to go to a farm in East Anglia

A man sits with his mask about to prepare to go to a farm in East Anglia and start picking fruit

A man sits with his mask about to prepare to go to a farm in East Anglia and start picking fruit

Young Romanian workers leave Stansted and prepare to be taken to a farm in East Anglia

Young Romanian workers leave Stansted and prepare to be taken to a farm in East Anglia

Her seasonal crops include baby salad leaves, celery, radishes, onions, leeks, onions, asparagus and beets.

G’s Growers workers are paid at least a living wage – £ 8.72 an hour for those over 25, and the most efficient pickers can expect to earn up to £ 15 an hour with performance bonuses.

Employees of the Barway Inn pay £ 57.40 per week for their own room, which is equipped with a kettle and fridge-freezer with self-contained facilities including microwaves and hobs.

Amenities include a well-stocked bar, internet cafe, and free Wi-Fi, a fully-equipped gym, pool and ping-pong tables, tennis and basketball courts, and soccer fields and common areas with large screen satellite TV.

Workers move their luggage to buses before traveling to East Anglia

Young Romanian workers leave Stansted and prepare to be taken to a farm in East Anglia

Workers arrived on a charter plane yesterday, which was photographed as it landed at Stanstead Airport

Workers arrived on a charter plane yesterday, which was photographed as it landed at Stanstead Airport

Workers are divided into different color-coded “household groups” and are only allowed to use common areas together with members of their group to minimize the risk of the spread of coronaviruses.

National Farmers Union Vice President Tom Bradshaw told the BBC: “ Growers who depend on seasonal workers to grow, pick and package our fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are extremely concerned about the impact that restrictions coronaviruses may affect their ability to recruit this critical workforce. season.

“In the meantime, I encourage anyone interested in helping choose Great Britain this summer to contact one of the approved agricultural recruiters.”

There are signs that an increasing number of British workers are considering at least turning to agricultural work.

Recruitment site Totaljobs said it saw 50,000 farm job searches in one week.

He added that searches for terms like “fruit picker” or “farm worker” had increased by 338% and 107% respectively.

Indeed.co.uk has also reported a huge spike in interest in fruit picker jobs in particular.

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