A collection of trade unions and civil society organisations have collaborated to form a new Seasonal Worker Interest Group.
The group has been launched to provide the opportunity for policymakers, industry and key stakeholders to better understand the experiences of workers.
It is made up of organisations that provide support or advocate for migrant seasonal workers, including Anti Trafficking & Labour Exploitation Unit, Focus on Labour Exploitation, Work Rights Centre and Worker Support Centre.
The coalition is seeking urgent action in response to growing incidences of poor treatment of workers on the Seasonal Worker visa to safeguard all migrant seasonal workers.
It will also serve as a forum for dialogue between those working on the issue, and a platform for engagement with government, industry and the public about the treatment of workers in agriculture, the design of the visa and its oversight.
The group said that no mechanisms currently existed that allowed for worker interests to be effectively heard and pursued.
This comes following continued allegations of mistreatment of workers within the scheme and last month campaign groups warned many would not return due to the situation.
“It’s the worst it’s ever been”, said Caroline Robinson, project advisor for Worker Support Centre Scotland, a non-profit that supports seasonal workers in Scotland with advice and information.
There was a “relatively significant number of workers” coming to the centre, saying while this was not their first time on the scheme it would be their last as “they’ve had such a bad experience”, she added.
The new group will work to support and advocate for migrant workers on the visa, using evidence members have gathered to inform productive policy recommendations to both government and industry stakeholders.