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Cornish MP urges furloughed workers to take fruit picking jobs

Cornish MP urges furloughed workers to take fruit picking jobs

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:21am 20th May 2020.

A Cornish MP is urging workers who have been furloughed to take a second job harvesting crops.

The government has launched a website to recruit British workers to fill a shortage of fruit pickers.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, who also represents Camborne and Redruth, says the coronavirus crisis has resulted in only small numbers of overseas seasonal workers arriving so far.

During Tuesday's coronavirus briefing, people were encouraged to visit the website and sign up, but it crashed within minutes.

You can visit the Pick For Britain website to find out about jobs here.

A government source told Sky News: "It has been up and running since April and already lots of people have found jobs from the site.

"So, it's not a case that it's a new platform that's not working.

"It was due to a surge in demand that the website crashed and we are increasing the capacity of the server at the moment."

Mr Eustice said only about a third of people who would normally come from overseas to help with the harvest are already here - and not many more are expected.

"We will have to rely on British workers to bring harvest home.

"We have launched a new Pick for Britain website that enables people to go online, check what job issues there are, what job availability there is and to marry up job opportunities from growers and employers with those people seeking a second job - particularly those who are furloughed.

"We believe those who are furloughed may be getting to the point that they want to lend a hand, play their part. They may be wanting to get out or supplement their income with an additional job.

"If they do feel that way I would urge them to visit that website and look at the opportunities that are there."

George Eustice, Environment Secretary and MP for Camborne and Redruth

Earlier in the day, Prince Charles backed the initiative by releasing a video in which he said "we need an army of people to help" if this year's fruit and vegetables are to be picked.

People on social media lamented the website crashing, with many saying they had eagerly gone to see if they could get a job but were disappointed.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) supported the campaign earlier this month as it urged farm businesses, labour providers and recruiters to post job vacancies on the site ahead of it being promoted to the public.

The NFU also said growers told them there had been "an overwhelmingly positive response to the call for British workers to come forward this summer".

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