G's to help save Christmas for poultry industry

Better housing, say Gs, is one of the driving forces to recruit 2,500 seasonal staff

These show the plans approved for G's Shippea Hill 'village'. It wants consent to house EU workers for longer under the visa scheme. - Credit: Gs

G’s of Barway wants to help save Christmas – and ensure survival of the poultry industry – by housing seasonal workers from the EU. 

The company has asked to vary a condition of occupancy of Wings Hostel at Shippea Hill to allow caravans and cabins to be used from May 1 to December 31.  

Until now they have only been allowed to use them until October 31. 

“The fallout from the pandemic, coupled with the many challenges that Brexit has brought, has affected the supply chain,” G’s told East Cambs planners. 

“Due to the shortage of labour, specifically in the poultry industry, the government has issued circa 10,000 short term work visas to attract workers from the EU to ensure no shortages/empty shelves for the festive period.” 

G’s says they have been “inundated with calls” from visa sponsors asking for short term accommodation to attract and retain workers.  

This, says G’s, would ensure “a smooth transition during this very short period.” 

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If agreed, G’s will be able to use the accommodation for seasonal workers from May 1 to December 31 in any calendar year for five years starting from 2021.  

The Shippea Hill site obtained planning consent earlier this year to create a workers’ ‘village’ that can house nearly 600 seasonal workers.  

G’s believes that better housing will be one of the driving forces to continue to recruit the 2,500 seasonal staff it needs each year. 

Until now Wings Hostel - which has 78 portacabins and 408 workers – has been the least popular of temporary housing for G’s workers,  

G’s won consent to replace it with 148 caravans/cabins with a shop, washing machines and drying areas, BBQ space and a smoking shelter. 

G's point out that some of their top crews earn £800 per week "so the old age argument that agriculture is looking to attract 'cheap labour' is certainly not a valid point any longer". 

Hourly rates average £10 and many earn the equivalent of £450 a week for a 45-hour week. 

Councillors approved the original application even though it is a rural area where permission would not normally be given.  

It was needed though “solely in order to fulfil an essential agricultural need”.