Report 2012 by the International Federation for Human Rights : imported workers for exported strawberries

In Huelva, Andalusia, intensive strawberry cultivation, for export at an early stage to European markets calls for a few months of the year to abundant temporary workers (over 50 000), mainly of migrant workers. In order to both meet the needs manpower, and regulate migration flows, the Spanish government has implemented the system of contratación in origen to recruit “at source” in their country Original few thousand people that will be conveyed and distributed in plantations where they will work until the end of the season of the strawberry, pledging to return to their country at the end of their contract. With the entry into the European Union of Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, recruitment at source now involves Moroccan workers. This original system is often cited as examples of the benefits of circular migration, a model promoted by the institutions of the European Union to provide for manpower in Europe while ensuring the non-settlement of migrants on its soil.
Combined with a bit protective legal framework for seasonal agricultural workers in Andalusia this system induces infringement of the rights of workers.
As for all workers, first of all, non-working days are not paid, there is no minimum income guarantee. Now the days not worked are indeed many, harvesting strawberry is subject to weather conditions, and labor has often locally very abundant relative to average needs during the season. Moreover, the rules of union representation prevents any type of seasonal agricultural representation that can almost never meet the required period.
The mission found that housing conditions (usually reserved for migrant workers) are very variable, a recurring problem is their distance from urban centers and lack of transportation. Finally, FIDH is particularly concerned about the conditions of work and life of Moroccan women, recruited based on discriminatory criteria and the majority do not speak any Spanish, and are totally dependent on their employer without which they can not back for another season in Spain. In addition, the employment contract does not include an end date, it can be interrupted at any time and workers recruited to the source returned to their country, their right of residence is linked to the employment contract.
FIDH makes recommendations to the Spanish authorities in order to strengthen the protection of agricultural seasonal workers, to intensify labor inspections and provide better social support for migrants. FIDH calls on Spain to ratify the International Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their family members. The FIDH recommends including the Moroccan government to include trade unions in recruiting in Morocco and in monitoring the implementation of the Agreement with Spain, and to eliminate discriminatory recruitment criteria.
Finally, FIDH makes recommendations to businesses, both to the farmers themselves, as well as buyers, especially the large distribution companies, so that they ensure compliance with human rights by their providers.


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