The continuing issue of finding enough workers for the British agricultural and horticultural industries was a topic of major concern at the NFU Annual Conference. Speaking in the Horticultural session, Anthea McIntyre MEP for the West Midlands said,
"Despite considerable efforts on countless occasions, producers and packers simply cannot find enough British workers prepared to work in the fields or pack-houses.
“The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) is a high quality, well managed scheme. Workers are well looked after and pay at least meets the National Minimum Wage. With six month’s work, there is a regular turnover and an impeccable record of people returning to their home country at the end of their contract.
“Without a reliable and willing local workforce, it is no wonder that SAWS is of such importance to our industries.
“The current scheme is due to end shortly and a replacement scheme is essential if British producers are to be able to meet their contracts to supply supermarkets and others going forward. Without reliable supply the buyers will look elsewhere to meet the needs of their customers – and that inevitably means more imports.
“I am therefore calling on the Immigration Minister, Mark Harper MP, for a follow-on SAWS scheme so that growers and packers can top up their European workforce during the peaks of the season for the particular crops being grown and the growing method being used.
"Experience with SAWS has shown that the UK Border Agency administers the scheme effectively and efficiently and will, I am sure, be well able to deal with a follow-on scheme.”
MEP Anthea becomes FSB Ambassador
Local MEP Anthea McIntyre has wasted no time in starting to help local entrepreneurs.
She has agreed to become an Ambassador for the Federation of Small Businesses ‘Real Life Entrepreneur Campaign’.
In this role she will actively promote the benefits of free enterprise and entrepreneurship – causes that she understands very well having run a very successful management consultancy for 20 years before she became an MEP in December.
Miss McIntyre said, "I am delighted to take on this role and look forward to helping both new and established businesses.I am convinced that the way to reduce unemployment is to incentivise local employers to take people on. I’m so pleased that the FSB has launched this campaign; as a small business owner myself I know that employing others is a major factor in our economic recovery."
This superb FSB campaign recognises that setting up and running a business can be a daunting prospect, and it is a lot of hard work. But it is also one of the most rewarding things that you can do and can be one of the most positive changes someone can make for themselves and the community they live in.
In a society dominated by celebrity culture, celebrity entrepreneurs have emerged as inspirational figures. But we believe that anyone who has a good idea and takes a risk to put it into practice and grow a business is an entrepreneur. The vast majority will never be celebrities, but they still enrich the lives of themselves and those around them.
These are the people that we should all champion – the Real Life Entrepreneurs.”
Anthea appointed Conservative Employment spokesman – small businesses to be top of growth agenda
Local MEP Anthea McIntyre has been appointed Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament.
As the party's lead on a major area of the EU's legislative power, she will play a key role in fending off potentially harmful new rules and regulations and fighting for the support and freedom that British companies need to boost enterprise and jobs.
Having run her own small business for 20 years Anthea, who joined the Parliament in December as MEP for the West Midlands, has a wealth of experience in management consultancy.
She aims to roll back damaging social legislation and argues: "Most decisions on employment law are best left to national governments. I want to protect the right of British workers to opt out of restrictive regulations such as the Working Time Directive.
She said: "I know about the challenges and opportunities of running a small business and I recognise that, given the right backing and freedom from red tape, they can be the real engine room of a growing economy.
"Too often entrepreneurs, would-be wealth-creators, and jobseekers feel that Brussels is working against them. As the lead Conservative voice on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, I shall be urging fellow MEPs to think growth instead of restriction, to promote enterprise ahead of bureaucracy, to back opportunity over regulation.
"That is what I came into politics to do. That is why I am a Conservative"
Miss McIntyre was congratulated by the leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs, Martin Callanan, who said: "I know that Anthea's passion for driving enterprises forward, combined with her grasp of the fine detail of business practice, will make her a formidable operator in this role."
MEP Anthea highlights collapse in opportunities for temporary work
Local Conservative MEP, Anthea McIntyre, has highlighted the European Commission's own figures on job vacancies as powerful evidence that the controversial Temporary Agency Workers Directive is having a damaging effect on job prospects.
In her role as Conservative Employment spokesman Anthea McIntyre seized on the publication of the Commission's latest European Vacancy Monitor, which showed a sudden and dramatic collapse in temporary posts at the time the directive was being implemented by member states across Europe last autumn. France, Germany and the Netherlands had previously all seen substantial growth in temporary vacancies, but from a peak in August the numbers suddenly fell by up to one-fifth.
In the UK, where the directive's impact is softened by an agreement between employers and unions that individual companies can effectively opt out if management and staff agree, the fall was less severe.
The biggest impact was in France where the number job vacancies held by leading temporary-work agency Randstad fell by more than 20 per cent in two months.The Commission report seeks to link the collapse to the poor economic climate and companies performing badly.
However, Miss McIntyre said: "They seem to be in denial about the harmful impact of their own policy. They try to blame the economy, but that has been bad since 2008. When you look at the graph of temporary job vacancies, the sharp downturn comes exactly at the point during last autumn when countries were putting the directive into effect.
"The evidence is staring them in the face. The Commission thought the directive would lead to the creation of more permanent jobs, but of course that hasn't happened either."
"They have shackled growth in the name of social engineering - and in the process destroyed job opportunities for thousands of workers across Europe. It is the perfect example of why the right to determine social legislation of this kind needs to be repatriated to the UK at the earliest opportunity."
MEP Anthea discusses CAP reforms
Local MEP Anthea McIntyre recently met the NFU’s West Midlands Combinable Crops Group to discuss the latest round of proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Programme (CAP).
The Group expressed concern that a number of the proposals do not take into account Food Security and Food shortages and will, in some instances, damage the environmental gains made in recent years.
After a lengthy discussion covering many specific points, Anthea McIntyre said:
“It is clear that the gradual process of improving and reforming the CAP over the last few years is in danger of being reversed and inflicting real damage on British farmers.
“Proposals to impose crop diversification on livestock and dairy farmers are clearly not sustainable and simply ignore the realities that such farmers face.Similarly, the suggestion that block cropping (where one crop is grown on a single block of land or farm) be stopped would add to costs, lead to the inefficient use of machinery, and even create additional traffic congestion in rural areas for no discernable benefit to consumers or producers.”
Reaffirming her commitment to work to roll-back bureaucratic interference from the EU, Anthea told the meeting:
“I will do all I can as a member of the Agriculture Committee to highlight the nonsense that the latest round of proposed reform creates and work with colleagues to preserve the environmental gains that have been made in recent times.
“Farming is a vital British industry and plays a huge role in protecting and enhancing the environment. The gains of recent years are threatened by the proposed reforms.”
(Photograph shows Anthea McIntyre MEP with members of the West Midlands Combinable Crops Group at Gillow Farm, Herefordshire.)
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