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NEWSLETTER No 4

The aim of this bulletin is to present the results of the
final conference of the PROMOTE project
held on 16 December in Madrid.


 

First Part

The conference was attended by relevant personalities who are aware of the problems and the situation of posted workers and seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, both in Spain and in Europe.
Lucia Garcia
Migration secretary of UGT FICA, thanked all the people in the room for their presence. He thanked all the speakers for their participation and expressed his sincere gratitude to the organizations that have been part of the consortium of this project. Briefly presented the project and the agenda of the day.
D. Pedro Luis Hojas.  
General Secretary of  UGT FICA


He thanked all those who had attended the conference for their participation and thanked the partners for their active involvement in the project.
He pointed out that this project was a necessary first step towards making the situation of posted and seasonal workers in the agricultural sector more visible. With this project, work has been done to analyse the situation, but work must continue on actions to support the workers, providing them with information about their rights and with different resources to facilitate their actions to denounce the permanent violation of their basic labour rights.
This project has focused on identifying the problems that these workers have and what are the breaches of the EU directive 96/71, both in Spain and in Italy, Romania and France, it is important to strengthen the work of the European Labour Authority once it has been created. 
We must continue to work together, supporting the initiatives of the European Labour Authority and all those initiatives of collaboration between trade unions and public administrations that have an impact on improving the situation of European posted and seasonal workers.
D. Javier Suquia. 
National Liaison Officer for Spain at the European Labour Authority (ELA)
Congratulated UGT FICA for leading such a project. The posting and free mobility of workers is one of the basic pillars for the work to be carried out by the European Labour Authority.
The Treaty on European Union states that the Union must guarantee equality, solidarity and the fight against discrimination. The European Union considers that a specialized body should be set up to monitor compliance with the basic rules guaranteeing equality, solidarity between generations and the fight against discrimination. In order to ensure these principles, the Union considered it necessary to create a specialized body to ensure that these principles are effectively enforced. At present, 14 million citizens are moving around the different countries of the European Union and it is necessary to fully guarantee their rights.

What are the functions of ELA?
  • Facilitate information
  • Cooperation between states
  • Mediate in disputes
  • Support cooperation between states to bring undeclared work to the surface
  • Coordinate social security systems, among others. 
The European Commission urges the Parliament and the Council to complete the tasks of social security coordination and urges public authorities and social partners to cooperate to solve the issues of mobile and posted workers.
ELA's first campaign has focused on seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, because it identifies that this is where undeclared work is of great importance, there is high mobility and it is a very important sector for Mediterranean countries. Workers are very vulnerable because they lack information and this leads to abuses in the hard core of the employment relationship: working hours, wages, violations of social security payments, poor housing conditions.
The campaigns developed have been based on two branches of action: information and control and inspection. The participation of the European social partners is encouraged.
Enrico Somaglia who spoke on behalf of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT).
The focus of his intervention was to point out the challenges faced by agricultural workers: undeclared work, poor wages, lack of adequate social security coverage, poor housing conditions, problems for migrant workers to denounce their lack of rights for fear of reprisals in the form of deportation. In short, one of the most precarious sectors that trade unions and EFFAT need to pay more attention to.
In the agricultural sector the majority base their mobility on the free movement of people within the EU, in agriculture the rate of posted workers is only 2% of posted workers.

EFFAT's main demands focus on:
  1. Social conditionality included in the CAP, ensuring better living conditions for workers, and that social conditionality applies from 1 January 2023.
  2. Minimum wage and collective agreement.
  3. EFFAT considers that there must be a holistic approach that should cover the whole functioning of the food chain
  4. We demand a new directive giving more power to inspectors and giving a greater role to the ELA
  5. Solve the problem of intermediaries who are real exploiters of the working class.
  6. A directive to put an end to subcontracting
  7. A new migration policy to improve the situation of workers from outside the EU, with a common migration approach.
  8. Treating the food chain as a whole, not using agriculture as bargaining chips in free trade agreements.
  9. Design a just transition framework so that all green initiatives have social conditionalities.
Virginia de Alarcón
Transnational Anti-Fraud Unit within the National Anti-Fraud Office of the State Agency for Labour and Social Security Inspection.
Its function is to coordinate all labour mobility actions; to fight against transnational fraud; to fight against undeclared work.
The agricultural sector is a priority sector in the European Union, due to the high level of labour mobility it concentrates, the volume of undeclared work it generates and the need to coordinate health and safety conditions in the workplace for its workers.

The most widespread infringements in Spain are quite common with those found in other countries, among others: 
  • A high volume of undeclared work
  • Precarious employment
  • Under-declared work
  • Poor health and safety conditions at work
  • Poor housing conditions 
Actions carried out by OEITSS
  • Information campaign, led by EURES, with the participation of MITES with the MISSM, and the social partners. Informative materials, a website and wide dissemination in social networks have been developed.
  • Inspection campaigns, joint inspections or concerted inspections, which throughout 2021 have yielded good results, with 3,132 infringements identified. A specific inspection campaign aimed at the actions of temporary employment agencies, with 207 infringements identified. 

Roundtable

The aim was to find out what role the different organizations play in their countries to guarantee the improvement of the working conditions of displaced persons. What good practices have been developed in the different countries with the participation of representatives from Spain, Italy and Romania.
D. Mohamed Saady

President of the National Association Another Border ANOLF, Italy.  ANOLF has a structure throughout Italy to offer assistance, information, guidance to those in need, especially immigrants, and to present their demands to the various bodies, tracing a real path of social integration at territorial level, offering services, bureaucratic assistance, training initiatives and cultural activities to promote a peaceful social fabric between native and foreign communities.

Ion Paunel.

President of the Union of Agricultural Producers in the region of Olt, Romania. It is too easy for employees in agriculture to leave their jobs and move to other fields of activity because there is a significant imbalance in wages, for example between agriculture and information technology. The agricultural federations and associations should work more closely together. The administration has great difficulty in carrying out controls and detecting fraud. We should include counselling, mediation and information, on the ground, to determine the worker to confess the difficulties he/she is facing and not to favour the employer for fear of not losing his/her job.
Ana Maria del Corral.

UGT confederal area of migration. 
According to the latest data published (data from 2019) Spain ranks third among the member states in A1 documents issued, but there is a lack of information regarding the sector in which these posted workers from Spain work, nor is there any data on where posted workers from other countries go to work. In law 45/99, in the reform that was made when directive 2014/67 was transposed, UGT succeeded in creating a centralized register of posting communications to know who the posted workers are, where they are and from which companies. When a company notifies the posting, it is not known what type of authorization a worker has, it may be that a worker has authorization to be posted in Spain, but not to be posted to another country, this type of situation can be the ideal space for intermediary companies to generate fraud with this type of workers.
The challenges for the future are the updating of the legislation, as the ETTs and recruitment agencies are acting with an old and insufficient regulation, and even more so at the present time when platforms have appeared, which also play an important role. The new legislation, which obliges companies with more than 50 workers to have an equality plan, makes it very difficult to monitor compliance with this regulation as companies in many cases do not count posted workers.
This first part of the conference 
provided an overview of the main problems that currently exist in Europe to ensure compliance with the EU directive regarding the enforcement of the labour rights of posted workers and seasonal workers in the agricultural sector.

Segunda parte

In the second part of the conference, the main findings of the two years of the project were presented by each of the partners involved in the project.
Angela Rubio (UGT FICA). 

She presented the methodology used in the project and the main results of the analysis carried out in Spain, with the data available and that, as already mentioned, there are no disaggregated data for the agricultural sector. The European Commission indicates that 248,532 workers leave Spain and Spain receives 63,939 posted workers (A 1), the countries that post the most workers are Romania, Poland and Portugal. 
Romania is the country that provides the greatest number of workers under the free movement regime, and these workers are linked from one campaign to the next. The most important frauds are those mentioned in Virginia de Alarcón's presentation.
UGT FICA actively participates in the Migratory Flows Commission, which is a well-established commission that analyses the labour force that will be needed. We cooperate with the labour inspectorate, which cooperates on a one-off basis when irregularities are detected, and with the state security forces and bodies whose aim is to monitor undeclared work. In all the bodies in which it participates, UGT FICA insists on the need to provide information to employers and workers to alert them to the risks of contracting through intermediaries.
Collaboration with French institutions to monitor compliance with legislation for workers moving to France for the grape harvest.
Fatima Mariosa (FAI CISL)  

Pointed out the difficulties in collecting data because few workers in the agricultural sector in Italy use Directive 96/71/EC and, in general, the best off are Romanian and Polish men, who work in Northern Italy in the harvesting season. In general, we have not detected a denial of their rights. In Italy, the biggest problem is the illegal intermediation "caporalato".

She reiterated the three good practices selected in Italy:
  1. Implementation of a free phone number managed by FAI CISL so that workers can report violations of their rights.
  2. Concertation between all social partners and civil society organizations together with the government to curb the phenomenon of illegal work.
  3. A programme of collaboration between FAI and other European trade unions in order to create an open dialogue on these issues to provide workers with points of reference and information.
Tudor Dorobantu (ICDI)  

He pointed out how important it is for them that Romania is the main supplier of labour in the agricultural sector in Europe, with 7 million Romanian citizens working abroad. This situation of exodus of Romanian workers creates strong tensions on the internal market as Romania is facing labour shortages in different sectors. Many of the workers who go abroad do so with an employment contract and under regular conditions, but in many cases these workers are exploited and their labour rights are violated. One sector where many serious irregularities are being found is the meat sector, particularly in slaughterhouses. 
Collaboration and cooperation between the authorities and the social partners is essential to address many of these irregularities. It is necessary to improve and increase cooperation between workers' representative organisations and to reinforce the actions of the labour inspectorate.
Marc Caballero (notus-asr).  

The final report contains the main conclusions of this project, many of them have already been presented during this day with the different interventions.
The final report of the project is a comparative report between the four country studies carried out in Spain, Romania, Italy and France. The report includes the results of all the interviews carried out with the key informants selected in each country and the results of the questionnaire that was sent to the workers, it is a questionnaire that was launched in the different languages of the project. A total of 255 questionnaires have been collected, without being a representative sample, this information is very useful for the analysis that we are carrying out, therefore is already a global analysis of the situation in the four countries.

Some of the conclusions are:
  • Mobility is a phenomenon that has invisible sides
  • The lack of data is not neutral as it makes certain phenomena invisible
  • Need to improve sectoral and territorial data.
  • Greater cooperation between all the actors involved in the sector.
  • Greater cooperation in the participation of trade union organisations in the design of sectoral policies, which is still lacking in some countries.
Julia Frias (notus-asr)

Presents the outputs that have been produced during the course of the project:
  1. Webhttps://www.ugt-fica.org/areas/migraciones/promote
  2. Four newsletters that have been distributed to people with different profiles, interested in the issues addressed in the project: trade unionists, people from the administration, researchers, etc.
  3. Final report: Document containing the comparative analysis of the different countries, and the most relevant conclusions of the documentary analysis and the field work carried out. It will be published in Spanish, English, Italian, Romanian and French and distributed by each participating organisation.
  4. Executive summary. It will present a synthesis of the final report.
  5. Guide of good practices: it gathers the selected practices in each country, as best practices of cooperation between different actors. It will be edited in English, Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian and distributed by the partners in their respective countries.
The conference was brought to a close by:

Sebastian Serena

Secretary of the agri-food sector in UGT FICA. 
 
He pointed out the importance of this project for the agri-food sector and within it, the agricultural sector, which identifies more precisely what the sector represents.  
From an economic point of view, it is important because of the volume of turnover it generates and the volume of employment it provides. From a social point of view, because it is a sector that keeps the population in rural areas, something that is very necessary and of great importance on the current political agenda at European level. This sector employs more than 700,000 people, of whom more than 160,000 are migrants. The migrant population employed in the sector has grown by 24% in the last 10 years. 
When it comes to their work, these migrants face the same problems as the Spanish population, they face the systematic non-compliance with the collective agreement by the employer, low wages, etc.
But migrant workers also face another problem of great importance: the lack of accommodation, an issue that UGT FICA has been denouncing for many years.
It is necessary to point out the importance of the creation of the European Labour Authority (ELA) and it is necessary that the actions of ELA are maintained, it is also necessary to point out the great work done by EFFAT, the colleague Enrico, to ensure that the CAP is associated with cross-compliance in aid, this is an issue that will have to be pursued very closely as has already been pointed out.  
He thanked all those who had participated in the conference and who had contributed to the project's success.
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