South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth used a recent question session in the Scottish Parliament to ask the Scottish Government about what it is doing to support Ukrainian seasonal workers.
Speaking during a question session about how the Scottish Government is adapting its agriculture policy for crops and livestock due to the war in Ukraine, the local MSP asked about the possibility of workers being supported to bring over their families and gain access to public funds.
Speaking in the debating chamber, Colin Smyth said: “Many Ukrainian seasonal workers are carrying out outstanding work in supporting Scottish agriculture and fruit growing.
“Although their visas have been extended until December, the visas are valid only as long as the worker stays on their current farm or is placed on another farm by their sponsor.
“Those workers cannot apply for their families to join them, and they generally have no recourse to public funds.
“Will the cabinet secretary consider what more support the Scottish Government could give to those farm workers and, indeed, to help more farm workers to come to Scotland from Ukraine, including support on how they might be able to bring their family over and access public funds and services, given the enormous contribution that all those workers make to Scottish farming and fruit picking?”
Speaking after the session, Colin Smyth continued: “Like everyone, the news of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has appalled me, and I stand in complete solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they bravely oppose Putin’s genocide.
“Seasonal workers from Ukraine have been supporting Scottish agriculture for years and due to what is now happening in that country, it is very important that we do all we can to support them.”