The battle for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is in a crucial phase. And one of the sticking points is the one that refers to wages and working conditions.
The unions warn about the dramatic situation in which 4 million of the 10 million workers in the sector find themselves.
We have spoken with an activist who has been working in Austria for seven years, where the minimum wage for seasonal workers and migrants is officially 7 euros per hour, but it is far from being respected.
“The minimum wage is not respected. Normally they are paid between four and four and a half euros an hour. And even when this salary is paid, they use other strategies to pay even less, for example deducting more money than authorized for housing or food, or not paying overtime, ”explains Sónia Melo, an activist with the Sezonieri campaign.
To put an end to this situation, the unions demand the introduction of social conditionality. Or in other words, farms that do not comply with national legislation will not have access to European funds.
A proposal that rejects the farmers’ confederations, claiming that it represents an additional burden. “We fully respect the legislation and rules that are being developed. But the link with the Common Agricultural Policy is problematic, especially when it becomes a condition for payments. We see it as an administrative burden for farmers and for Member States. And in the worst case it will mean a double sanction for farmers in case of infringement. We believe that this would be excessive, “says Pekka Pesonen, COPA COGECA general secretary.
The argument of administrative overload and new legislation is rejected by the unions. “They talk about more bureaucracy and we do not like it to be presented that way because we are talking about an existing regulation. The only difference is that those who do not follow the rules should not continue to receive public funds. That is the only difference from the existing system “, insists Kristjan Bragason, general secretary of EFFAT (European Federation of Trade Unions for Food, Agriculture and Tourism).
Those who oppose this social conditionality argue that labor law is not a European competence. But its advocates claim that it is a necessity for those who have continued to work during the pandemic so that Europe could eat.