Government website to recruit fruit pickers crashes on launch
Web platform to support Pick for Britain campaign goes down
A new government website designed to help address the shortage of seasonal workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables crashed immediately after being launched by the environment secretary George Eustice.
The pickforbritain.org.uk site was created to support a government initiative to encourage UK citizens – particularly those whose job has been cut or furloughed – to take on fruit-picking jobs. The UK is currently facing a marked shortage of pickers as the coronavirus has prevented the usual annual influx of seasonal workers from overseas.
Shortly after the UK went into lockdown, unions and opposition MPs warned of the urgent need for additional pickers to be found.
Labour MP Rosie Duffield told PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome that there was a risk of “fields and fields of unpicked fruit and vegetables being left to rot” if the problem was not addressed.
At the daily Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, Eustice urged furloughed employees to “play their part” in ensuring the country is able to cope with harvest season.
He encouraged citizens and businesses to visit a new website where they could advertise or seek work.
“Over the last couple of months, we have been working with industry on a plan to support and help people taking second jobs, particularly those who are furloughed,” he said. “And we have launched a new ‘Pick for Britain’ website that enables people to go online, check what job issues there are, what job availability there is and to marry up job opportunities from growers and employers with those people seeking a second job, particularly those who are furloughed.”
But no sooner had the site been launched during the afternoon briefing than it had gone down, presenting visitors with a message that said the site was “unavailable”.
At 10.30pm it was still largely unavailable. By 9am on Wednesday morning it appeared to be working correctly.
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