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New podcast: Exploitation of seasonal agricultural workers


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In this podcast, Jamila Duncan-Bosu of the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit discusses how the seasonal agricultural workers scheme facilitates exploitation, the barriers to people raising complaints about their treatment, and what the government can and should be doing about it.

Last week, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Independent published an article on the exploitation of people in this immigration route. It is a must read, and you can find it here. From their press release:

Following a five-month freedom of information battle, TBIJ was given access to 19 farm inspection reports produced by the Home Office between 2021 and 2022. The documents summarise interviews and findings of inspectors who visited farms employing people who came to the UK on the seasonal worker visa.

Nearly half (44%) of the 845 workers interviewed as part of the inspections raised welfare issues including racism, wage theft and threats of being sent back home. On most of the inspected farms, there were allegations of mistreatment or discrimination and more than 80% of workers interviewed on the three most complained about farms raised an issue of some sort.

But none of the allegations raised during these inspections was investigated by the Home Office or visa scheme operators, according to a report by the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration.

The revelations suggest that people who travelled thousands of miles to fill gaps in the UK’s agricultural workforce faced far greater levels of exploitation than previously thought.

For further reading on these issues, we recommend this briefing from Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX).

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.