Flights for Romanian workers for the UK harvest

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BY iñigo gurruchaga

British farmers need some 80,000 workers for the spring vegetable and fruit harvest and some companies have resorted to charter special flights to bring Romanian workers to England’s most fertile farms – in Kent, East Anglia or Lincolnshire. Local recruitment is not enough, despite the loss of jobs due to the coronavirus.

With demand for food far higher than expected for the end of March and the beginning of April, partly due to the initial hoarding, a campaign emerged, #FeedTheNation (Feeding the Nation), which has mobilized employment agencies to recruit to the necessary workers in supermarkets or distribution networks. Casualties in other sectors, such as hospitality, are substantial. The total number of lost jobs is estimated at two million.

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Harvesting is a long-time job, seven days a week, often paid with the minimum wage. Although British workers have applied for jobs, they are not enough. The first of the charter flights this week brought 180 Romanians to Stansted Airport. According to ‘The Times’, the company that had hired them will charter at least six planes.


Managing the coronavirus crisis triggers conservative popularity



The popularity of the German conservatives, the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and the Social Christian Union (CSU) of Bavaria, continues to be unstoppably increased by the management of the coronavirus crisis of the federal chancellor, Angela Merkel. The poll published this Sunday by the Forsa institute grants CDU / CSU a voting intention of 39%, equivalent to the sum of Social Democrats (SPD), La Izquierda and Los Verdes and 6 points more than in the 2017 general elections. SPD and environmentalists lose a point compared to the previous survey and stand at 16% and 15%, respectively. The rest of the formations remain unchanged: the ultra-nationalists of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with 10%. The Left with 8% and the Liberals (FDP) with a shaky 5%, the minimum to obtain parliamentary representation.

With these results, conservatives could choose a coalition partner and negotiate either with the SPD, with those who currently govern in Germany, or The Greens, with whom they have been flirting at the national level for years and already govern together in several federal states. In other surveys published in the last two weeks, CDU / CSU obtained between 35% and 38% of votes, Los Verdes between 16% and 20%, SPD between 16% and 17%, AfD of 9% at 10.5%. The Left from 7% to 9% and the FDP between 5% and 7%. Especially strong compared to the 2017 general elections is the rise of the conservatives in the populous North Rhine-Westphalia (7.4 points up to 40%) and the wealthy Bavaria (11.2 points up to 50%), whose inhabitants overwhelmingly approve the management of the coronavirus crisis by their respective regional prime ministers, Armin Laschet and Markus Söder.

The Federal Minister for Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, has called on the European Union to approve a program of aid in the coronavirus crisis for the countries of Africa and the Middle East worth 50,000 million euros. “Germany and Europe must make a decisive contribution, also at the international level, to control the pandemic,” says Müller in the Sunday papers of the media group Funke. The aid package prepared by the EU amounts to 500,000 million euros, but is aimed exclusively at member countries, emphasizes the minister, who considers it essential to “extend the protective umbrella to our neighboring regions in Africa and the region in crisis around to Syria »with an immediate aid program.

The strategy of betting on group immunity to deal with the coronavirus crisis is meaningless, according to German Chancellery Minister Helge Braun. “Just to immunize half the German population within 18 months, 73,000 people would have to be infected daily,” said Braun, for whom “our healthcare system could not handle such high numbers and we would end up losing control of the epidemic”. The so-called group immunity is reached when a high percentage of the population has resistance to a disease, so that it stops spreading. “An epidemic can be considered overcome when between 60% and 70% of the population is immune to the virus,” said Braun, a doctor by profession, who stressed that these percentages are only reached at the risk of overflowing the health system and with a high number of deaths. “That is why our strategy continues to be to avoid contagion and, as far as immunity is concerned, wait for us to have a vaccine,” said Braun.

Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmeier has calculated that Germany needs billions of facemasks to overcome the coronavirus crisis. “If we want to make it possible for all people in Germany to work, shop or use public transport, we will need between 8,000 and 12,000 million masks per year”, says Altmaier in statements to the Sunday Bild am Sonntag, in which he stresses that “if we succeed producing a good part of them in Germany, we will have achieved a lot ». A team of officials works on that matter in the ministry, although the conservative politician acknowledges that the country is far from reaching these production figures. “Our goal is that in the second half of the summer we reach a million-dollar production of surgical masks” for the supply of hospitals and medical centers, highlights Altamaier.

Some 70,000 hotels and restaurants in Germany are threatened with bankruptcy by the coronavirus crisis, according to the professional industry organization Dehoga. The 233.00 German hotel and gastronomic companies will lose revenues of around 10 billion euros until the end of April, according to Dehoga manager Ingrid Hartges, in statements to the Sunday Bild am Sonntag, in which she warns that “without extraordinary help from the state one in three companies is facing insolvency ». The federal finance minister, Olaf Scholz, has announced in the meantime that he is studying the granting of aid to the sector. “Naturally we study where supplementary aid is necessary and we have in our sights those sectors that will not be able to reactivate quickly. Hospitality and gastronomy surely belong to this last group », says Scholz in the Sunday Welt am Sonntag.



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