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(en) France, UCL AL #312 - Ecology, Agriculture: Seasonal hiring, permanent pain (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 29 Jan 2021 08:24:19 +0200


A tragedy that occurred in October made even more visible the need to organize to warn about the working conditions of seasonal workers, and to defend their rights, in a context of competition between them and them, and while the recent unemployment reform adds to this precariousness. ---- In La Motte du Caire, in the middle of the apple harvest campaign, Sunday, October 11, 2020, a 32-year-old seasonal worker was found suffocated dead in her vehicle on an undeveloped plot, without access to water or electricity. A makeshift heater improvised by the victim is the cause of his death. The seasonal and seasonal workers still present in the peaceful village, upset by the death of their colleague, have organized themselves to inform the media, institutions, consumers, the population, local actors and other colleagues of this sinister accident which for them is not inevitable, but one of the consequences of a reception in unworthy conditions.

An email address and a blog have been opened by the Demains collective in order to receive testimonials[1].

Omar Bárcena CC BY-NC 2.0
Seasonal agricultural work such as harvesting requires significant labor over a short period of time, as local labor is often insufficient to ensure the season.

All put in competition
Farmers then appeal to foreign and French seasonal workers from other regions, who must find temporary accommodation, while the agricultural work is done. The private offer remains insufficient, unsuitable, and economically unattractive for these numerous precarious staff seldom paid more than the social minimums imposed (when they have the chance to be declared). Most are in autonomous mobile housing (camping, vans ...) and the small campsites in these rural areas are quickly saturated.

Some operators give themselves the means to receive their staff in dignified conditions, others do not (overcrowded collective housing, wild camping on a plot, without the provision of sanitary facilities or drinking water, without electricity). The workers are forced to accept these unworthy conditions, so easy has it become to be replaced. The case of this seasonal is not isolated.

The living and working conditions of these seasonal workers raise many questions about the agricultural model, migration policies, agricultural wage labor or consumer information. Many agricultural areas are now turning to teams of seconded workers, made available by international service companies.

These kinds of foreign temping companies hire these people for the desired length of time - an unexpected flexibility for farmers, and very tough competition for "traditional" seasonal workers . Some companies even have their own transport company and links with the country of origin in order to guarantee the loyalty of the seconded (scholarships, social benefits).

Subject to the charges of the sending country, they must however respect part of French law: hourly minimum wage, union rights, working time, payment of costs linked to secondment. In reality, seasonal workers are poorly informed of these rights, rarely speak French and find themselves isolated in the fields. Frauds are then numerous: the payslips do not reflect the real remuneration, the unverifiable number of hours often violates the agreements and the providers multiply the deductions of expenses (food, accommodation, etc.).

After half a century of the common agricultural policy, our agriculture has undergone many transformations. The number of farms is decreasing as their average size continues to grow, aiming to increase volumes, yields and profits to cope in an open and deregulated market.

The opening of markets at European and international level weighs on employment. The detachment in the building has caused great debate, but not a word on the agricultural temporary workers. While environmental issues seem to be of increasing concern to consumers, social issues are never mentioned: under what conditions do fruit pickers work? Trade union work is particularly complicated in the agricultural world.

Faced with this observation, the Confédération paysanne, as a union for the defense of family farming and workers of the land, took up the subject and worked to denounce the misdeeds of the agricultural model and violations of rights. humans.

Because agricultural liberalization has serious consequences in France and elsewhere, international work is being carried out. Supporting peasant agriculture is to encourage a model which respects the right to income of peasants but also of seasonal workers, it is to defend the rights of all workers of the land, farmers or employees, from here or elsewhere. It is to remind consumers that environmental but also social issues are paramount and that they have the right to know.

The hard blow of the unemployment reform
Other sectors such as tourism and catering are regularly singled out following numerous deaths linked to accommodation conditions. This is particularly the case in ski resorts, where environmental conditions are particularly harsh.

In 2015, the Hautes-Alpes department carried out a study on seasonal accommodation at nine resorts: nearly half of the people employed were not satisfied, when they were not housed in their trucks fitted out in station car parks, these sometimes pushing the vice to the point of driving them out under the guise of fighting against the precariousness of these housing conditions. The situation has not really improved since, despite the provision of additional housing, sometimes too expensive.

With the recent unemployment reform in France, the status of seasonal workers is once again undermined. You must now have worked six months to receive the return to work allowance, a period often difficult to achieve in seasonal jobs. If the seasonal workers of the ski lifts have obtained from the Ministry of Labor, following their mobilization last winter, a support plan, this is not the case for the other sectors concerned.

With the Covid-19 crisis, the threat is even greater for this sector, which concerns more than a million people in France. Many of them are likely to be added to the wave of expected layoffs, without the compensation that has so far allowed them to survive in slack periods.

Edouard (UCL Alpes-Provence)

Validate

[1] The collective can be contacted at solidarite.saisonniers@mailo.com or via their site demains.altervista.org.

https://www.unioncommunistelibertaire.org/?Agriculture-Embauche-saisonniere-douleur-permanente
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