Well-known strawberry and fruit growers Keelings have defended their decision to fly a large number of workers from Europe to help pick fruit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s understood the company chartered a Ryanair flight carrying over a hundred seasonal workers from Bulgaria.

We have also worked tirelessly to implement the HSE and Government guidelines

While the company was met with criticism from a number of quarters, including Meath councillor Alan Lawes, they defended their position saying that all workers would be quarantined for 14 days in line with HSE guidelines.

They said it was essential to have adequate staffing on the farm to pick crops as they ripened or they risked market shortages.

“Across our entire business we have also worked tirelessly to implement the HSE and Government guidelines to ensure we are protecting the health of all of our people,” Keelings said.

“This includes thorough and repeated COVID-19 safety coaching and instruction to follow all the HSE guidelines, which includes 14 days of restricted movement for any new arrivals in the country, prior to starting work in Keelings.”

Fruit picking

It is common practice across the UK and Ireland to hire staff from the continent for fruit picking and other fruit companies have voiced their concerns about getting labour during the lockdown.

The Department of Business provided 500 permits for non-EEA horticulture workers, all of which were filled.

Read more

Pressure for pickers slows strawberry harvest

Keelings acquires 900ha pineapple farm in Costa Rica