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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #308 - Ecology, Agriculture: against the serfdom of seasonal workers (de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 17 Oct 2020 11:09:56 +0300

A huge part of the agriculture of the south-east has suffered the effects of "modernization". From the worst of intensive practices to the virtual serfdom of workers, it is with the support of Europe that injustices from another era are taking place. But it is on this soil, and for more than 20 years, that the Codetras has been fighting. ---- It is in the context of a "modernization" of agriculture (concentrated farms, accelerated mechanization, increasing use of fertilizers, increase in irrigable areas, etc.) that the work of agricultural labor has evolved since the Second World War: National Immigration Office contracts in 1945 (Morocco, Poland, Italy), then labor introduction contracts from the International Migration Office, up to activity mission contracts agriculture, via temporary employment companies (ETTs) based in Europe. And, always, undeclared work of undocumented migrants.

Supposed to meet the permanent need for "temporary" labor on French farms, the annual presence of these foreign workers is in fact an invariable basis of intensive agro-industry. Indeed, this "seasonal" status does not describe a reality linked to the cycle of the seasons but to the capitalist need to reduce labor costs. All too often this leads to labor relations close to serfdom and social relations bordering on apartheid. It is in reaction to this intolerable situation that the Codetras (Collective for the defense of foreign workers in agriculture) was formed.

Le Codetras , a large and radical collective
Intensive arboriculture in the Hautes-Alpes, vegetable crops in greenhouses on the banks of the Rhône, immense areas of orchards and vegetables in irrigable soil in Val-de-Durance, Crau and Camargue... The fight of Codetras takes root in this soil . Its object is the fight against the exploitation of foreign labor, against the denial of rights, discrimination and against all forms of exploitation in agriculture. It brings together peasants, unions, associations, activists, researchers, journalists, lawyers and jurists.

In 2000, the European Civic Forum (FCE, international solidarity network), organized a fact-finding mission in Andalusia following the racist riots of February in El Ejido. In August 2001, a meeting brought together under the title "The exploitation of labor in intensive agriculture in Europe today and tomorrow" a great diversity of participants. The birth of Codetrasis part of the continuity of this story which has forged links between militants and militants of the FCE, southern Spain and south-eastern France. When it was created in 2002, the collective focused on discrimination in agricultural employment in the Bouches-du-Rhône, to which Moroccan and Tunisian workers were victims under seasonal contracts introduced by the French Office for Immigration and Immigration. integration (OFII).

Codetras' action has since been extended to the defense of posted workers recruited through service providers mainly located in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Poland. Based on European law, posting allows mobility within the European Union and has been, for the past fifteen years, the employment framework for foreign workers in Europe. In agriculture, it establishes ever more flexible and precarious employment contracts: which can be broken overnight, they allow employers to pay less social security contributions and to place collective "orders" of workers for specific missions. .

In 2017, five Moroccan and Spanish agricultural workers filed a complaint against Laboral Terra, an ETT specializing in agricultural work, and eight French contractors presenting themselves as "organic", who hired them through this service provider. Farmers in Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard regularly hire foreign workers posted to the production, packaging and distribution of their products. These facts are unfortunately not exceptional, but this complaint is one of the few to succeed.

Combat the excesses of posted work
This complaint relates to the grounds of concealed work, non-payment of hours worked, non-compliance with people, the labor code and collective agreements. Targets of intimidation, pressure, violence, largely insecure and isolated, victims often do not have the means to denounce to the courts the illegal, inhuman, sexist and discriminatory practices suffered. The Codetras stands alongside their struggle and documents these facts of exploitation to condemn inequalities in treatment, qualification and remuneration, while strengthening solidarity with and between workers in the land.

In the fields of the Crau plain, farmers have massive recourse to posted work: a flexible and insecure workforce.
Wrestling fields
The health crisis linked to Covid-19 has put the "agro-industrial" model in difficulty, but the workforce cannot once again be its adjustment variable, nor always suffer the logic of exploitation, racist, sexist and class. Now, turning a deaf ear is no longer possible. Monitoring the composition of agricultural work in the coming months and its effects beyond the pandemic which has disrupted the transnational recruitment of labor will make it possible to understand the issues of "free" movement of workers to ensure "free circulation »Goods in the single market. While the crisis has shed light on the centrality and performance of these intra and extra-community foreign workers in European agriculture, how can this parenthesis open up a struggle for those first and foremost concerned, and consolidate the mobilizations of solidarity networks? and actors of the peasant world?

The Collective for the Defense of Foreign Workers in Agriculture

More info on Codetras.org

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