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On Saturday 17 February 2018, migrant workers and their supporters across the UK will take part in ‘1 Day Without Us’ which is a national day of action to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution of migrant workers to the UK.  Demonstrations, rallies and parties are expected across the country, with the aim of changing the general public’s views on a group who are all too often slated by the right wing press.

The contribution of migrant workers can be seen in all areas of the UK economy.  This is particularly prominent in agriculture as almost all seasonal farm workers currently come from Eastern Europe. 

However despite what certain media outlets may have us believe, with Brexit looming many migrants are actually leaving the UK.   Amid reports of fruit and vegetables being left to rot in farms as a result of staff shortages, a survey from National Farmers Union found that over 4,300 vacancies for farm work went unfilled in 2017.  Recruiters have suggested this could be due to a perception amongst workers, as a result of Brexit, that the UK is xenophobic. As only 0.6% of seasonal fruit pickers are from the UK, many farmers are particularly concerned about what will happen if migration declines, particularly at a time when we should be trying to increase food exports.    

Concerns have also been expressed by those in other areas, including John Allan, the chairman of Tesco and Barratt Homes. He has stated that a reduction in migrant workers will have a significant adverse effect on the UK economy. The accounting firm PwC’s most recent UK Economic Outlook report supports this and states that a limit on migration could have a detrimental effect on industries such as construction, food manufacturing, construction, warehousing and hospitality.  

Furthermore, although a popular opinion may be that migrants place strain on the NHS; in fact over a quarter of Doctors working for the NHS were not born in Britain. This is not to mention the huge number of migrants working at other levels of the service.

Faced with the facts, it is hard to deny that the country simply could not cope without the input of migrant workers.  We should be proud to stand with them.

Blog by Claire Campbell, Solicitor

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