“How did you get past security?”
“The barrier lifted”
“I’ll have a word with the security guard. He’s not doing his job.”
“Can you confirm whether you have workers from Nepal?”
“I’m not allowed to reveal anything like that. That’s upstairs information.”
“Could I speak with someone upstairs?”
“You’ll have to apply by email or online.”
“Since I’m here, can I phone them? Perhaps a manager will come downstairs and talk with me?”
“Your phone call will be diverted to me, and I will say the same thing.”
One would think they are growing nuclear bombs, not tomatoes. What are they hiding? I could think of only two reasons for the high security: either they are safe-guarding migrant workers from potential hostility from locals, or they fear the uproar if the public learns that one ministry is recruiting migrant workers, while the Home Secretary Suella Braverman continues to assert that Britain is being ‘invaded’ by ‘economic migrants’ posing as asylum seekers. They cannot have it both ways.
The SWS is a great opportunity, especially for impoverished rural farmers from Nepal, if they can get free assistance with the application.
But applicants should be well-informed and not have to pay extortionate fees to unauthorised agents. Once in the UK, they should be aware of their labour rights. There have been some reports of abuse, but there are many safeguards and ways to report complaints.
Joy Stephens is a social researcher who worked in Nepal with a variety of rural empowerment projects between 1974 and 1998.