G's of Barway to create workers' 'village' on 28-acre site to house nearly 600 seasonal workers
PUBLISHED: 10:20 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 27 November 2019
Cambridgeshire's biggest employer of seasonal workers - G's of Barway - is to create a workers' village on a 28 acre site near Prickwillow to house nearly 600 people.
It will be developed at Wings Hostel - which has 78 portacabins and 408 workers - and is the least popular among seasonal workers.
In its place will be 148 caravans/cabins with a 'village' shop, washing machines and drying areas, BBQ space and a smoking shelter.
G's point out that some of their top crews earned £800 per week this year "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.
But housing is vital and "we are undeniably reliant on a constant and reliable seasonal workforce and will always be investing to remain competitive".
G's say they have invested around £10m over the past 15 years to ensure their accommodation offer is competitive.
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The new facilities will mean an end to communal showers and toilets some distance from sleeping accommodation; to attract workers they say toilets, showers and a kitchen within each unit is essential.
Wings Hostel has been chosen for investment because the area is one in which G's is expanding its growing and harvesting operation and the time and cost of shipping workers from Barway or elsewhere is time consuming.
"There could be significant commuting time saved" says their application statement.
"Investing in our staff will always be at the forefront of what we do," they explain.
They also hope the new facilities will meet a growing demand for couples/partners to work there "of which we have seen a steady increase over the last for to five years".
The company has told East Cambridgeshire District Council that like the rest of the UK agricultural and horticulture sectors, they have long relied on migrant labour.
Currently G's predominantly sources seasonal workers from central Europe but is finding it "increasingly difficult to recruit sufficient numbers" especially at periods of peak activity.
Councillors will decide the application next week.