‘Temporary workers should be happy here.’

When the harvest season is just around the corner and you have twelve hectares of apple and pear trees, you can use all the help you can get. Like Pieter Jansonius, a farmer from Nieuwekerk in Zeeland. ‘We harvest around 300 tonnes of fruit every year. To pull that off, I call upon friends and acquaintances to reinforce my permanent team of four employees. But even then I’m short of hands. Thankfully, AB Werkt solves that problem for me every year by supplying international workers.’

Jansonius isn’t the only grower in Zeeland who engages the services of AB Werkt during the fruit-picking season, which runs from late summer to mid-autumn. Every year, we find work for about 700 pickers, most of whom come from Poland. We take care of everything for them – from applying for citizen service numbers to finding accommodation. ‘AB Werkt also makes sure that the majority of the pickers who come to me have worked here before,’ says Jansonius. ‘That’s handy, because I grow different varieties of apples and pears, and they all need to be picked differently. You can pick pears all at once, but you pick apples by their colour. For each variety, you have to know what colour ripe apples are, and that takes some time to learn. So, it’s great if the more experienced workers can explain to the newcomers how it’s done, in their own language.’

Good conditions, happy workers

‘I think it’s really important that the temporary workers are happy here,’ Jansonius adds. ‘So, I make sure that they have good working conditions, which covers everything from providing sufficient work equipment and materials to ensuring a pleasant atmosphere. For example, we have coffee breaks together, and when it rains, we have soup. I also make sure that the work isn’t any harder than it needs to be. That’s why we chose the system where the storage bins pass by like a train. The pickers can put the apples in them, which means that they don’t have to carry heavy buckets full of fruit.’


When it comes to the well-being of the workers, Jansonius feels that AB Werkt also has a role to play. ‘Because they organize things like accommodation and transportation. I’ve noticed that the workers think it’s very important that these things are properly taken care of. And the great thing is that AB Werkt rarely lets them down. I’m also very happy with them. They’re very flexible; for example, when it’s warm and the fruit ripens much more quickly, AB Werkt immediately checks to see if additional people are available. They provide a fantastic service. And it works both ways; if they have a worker who hasn’t had a job for a while, I’m happy to take him on as a member of my team.’

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