Eurodiaconia has co-signed a joint-statement by OSEPI, PICUM, Slow Food and the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) calling for improvement in the rights and working conditions of agriculture workers. More specifically, the documents suggests that the current COVID19 crisis is a good opportunity for the EU to overhaul its agricultural and food system to make it both greener and more rights-compliant, with fairer supply chains, adequate prices for both farmers and consumers, and guaranteed labour rights for workers.
In a letter to the European Commission, EFFAT has recently high-lighted that the agricultural sector is the most affected by workplace accidents and illness. It is blighted by extremely low wages, a high proportion of undeclared work and poor working conditions. Workers often fall prey to exploitation, including gang-master practices and other forms of modern slavery. Thousands of migrant farm workers – both EU and third country nationals – live in shacks and unsanitary settlements where observing physical distancing is impossible and the pandemic could have devastating effects. In the fields and in many food processing plants, labourers toil in close proximity, with no protective equipment.
In light of these realities, the joint-statement calls for six measures:
- Addressing the situation of agri-food workers as a matter of urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Transforming the new CAP to make it both socially and environmentally sustainable.
- Including a focus on workers in the Farm to Fork Strategy.
- Ensuring full access to declared employment for migrant and refugee workers
- Improving functioning of work permit routes for non-EU migrants to reach Europe and enforce respect for migrant and refugee workers’ rights
- Rolling out mandatory EU legislation on human rights and environmental due diligence.
To read the statement in full, please visit EFFAT’s website.