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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Temporary Migration Programmes: the Cause or Antidote of Migrant Worker Exploitation in UK Agriculture


The referendum result in Britain in 2016 and the potential loss of EU labour in the advent of a `hard Brexit' has raised pressing questions for sectors that rely on EU labour, such as agriculture. Coupled with the closure of the long-standing Seasonal Agricultural Scheme in 2013, policymakers are grappling with how to satisfy on the one hand employer demands for mobility schemes, and on the other public demands for restrictive immigration policies. Labour shortages in agriculture transcend the immigration debate, raising questions for food security, the future of automation and ultimately what labour market the UK hopes to build. Temporary migration programmes have been heralded as achieving a triple win, yet they are rightly criticized for breeding bonded labour and exploitation. In lieu of a dedicated EU labour force, agricultural employers are calling for the establishment of a new seasonal scheme. In this paper, we explore whether the absence of a temporary migration programme resolves the potential exploitation of migrant workers. We argue that the absence of a temporary migration programme (TMP) is not an antidote to migrant exploitation, and that a socially just TMP which is built around migrant agency may be the most palpable solution.

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Journal of International Migration and Integration


Erica Consterdine (United Kingdom)
Sahizer Samuk (Luxembourg)

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