Because of the labour shortage and the low prestige of the job, nobody wants to work on dairy farms in Hungary. Furthermore, Ukrainians, Romanians, and Serbs move to Austria. Therefore, Hungarian farm owners recruit new workers in India who have swiftly become indispensable on their cattle farms. In fact, HVG managed to interview some of the farm owners who talked gladly about their Asian guest workers but did not allow the journalists to take photos of them.
Paperwork took six months
„There were no incidents; locals easily accepted my workers from India” – talked about his experiences András Krajcsovicz, a dairy farm owner in Békés county. He has been employing three men from the subcontinent for 1.5 months. He even
notified the local police station about his new employees to avoid any problems.
This practice is not unique: farm owners solved the problem of labour shortage such way in Veszprém, Nógrád, Győr-Moson-Sopron and Békés county. “Acquiring all the needed papers took half a year, but now everything is OK” – added Krajcsovicz.
He said that they were searching for new employees for years. However, they could not find anybody which is not surprising. According to an interview given by Ferenc Ledó, only the fruit and vegetable industry needs at least 50-60 thousand seasonal workers per annum. Animal husbandry, in contrast, requires fewer people but they have to be professionals. This is important because in the dairy industry paying the necessary amount of attention on the cows contributes a lot to the amount of milk they produce.
Krajcsovicz added that after their unsuccessful search for new employees in Hungary they decided to employ men from India. They asked for four people, but they got three because one of them did not meet the requirements. According to him, the process starts in India with recruiting the potential workers and measuring their knowledge. Finally, they do the paperwork only for those who met the professional requirements. Acquiring all the permissions lasts for half a year and
everybody receives a work and residence permit for two years.
Krajcsovicz added that he has been employing three men on his farm and so far there have not been any problems with them. In fact, they built houses on the farm for them which are fully equipped while the employees are self-sufficient. Importantly, they get the same salary as their Hungarian colleagues, and they buy what they need and prepare their meal. Furthermore, since animal husbandry is around the clock job they only rarely leave the farm. Of course, communication is difficult, but smartphones translate what is needed.
Multiton Ltd was not that lucky because locals threw eggs on the house where their Indian workers lived at first. Today they employ 6 men who exchange themselves in a rotation because after two years they have to go home and stay there until their new papers are issued. Tamás Sárközi, CEO of Multiton said on a conference this spring that they are
very satisfied with their foreign employees.
Robots will not substitute human workforce
Gábor Varga, CEO of Hegykő Zrt. noted that the Ukrainian, Romanian and Serbian workforce moves to Austria. Thus, labour shortage in agriculture is becoming an ever-growing challenge in Hungary.
According to the data of Immigration and Asylum Office,
24,539 people asked for a residency permit in Hungary from a non-EU country in 2017.
This number was 13,701 in the first quarter of 2018. However, since there is only an integrated number, nobody knows how many Indians are now working in Hungary.
According to Nancy Charlton, an American expert human workforce is going to remain important in animal husbandry even in the robotized future. She advised not to buy a milking machine to leave the stable but to increase the efficiency of the production.
Though HVG wanted to talk with the Indian labourers about their everyday life in Hungary,
their employers did not allow that.