ECVC demands urgent measures for rural workers in the face of escalating COVID-19 difficulties

30 April 2020, Brussels

This 1 May, we are celebrating International Workers’ Day in a unique and extraordinary context. In rural areas around Europe, the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating the already difficult situation of agricultural and migrant workers. This is why, jointly with a number of allies and other food producer organisations, ECVC has sent an open letter to the European institutions, denouncing the conditions of agricultural and migrant workers in Europe and demanding a list of urgent and necessary measures for rural workers in the context of the COVID-19.

ECVC members are observing that today, in Europe, the economic interests of large production and marketing companies have taken precedence over the health and basic rights of rural and migrant workers.

In addition to the severe structural vulnerability and precarity that they were experiencing before the crisis, these workers are now facing new discrimination and difficulties. These include the lack of protective material in the workplace, such as masks or preventative equipment, or a shortage of necessary control measures such as tests, hygiene conditions, safe transport and distances between people: all this in working conditions that are already stressful and under permanent pressure. Specifically, migrant workers are experiencing the most extreme violation of their rights, due to the discrimination generated by their migrant status.

In the face of this situation, ECVC and the other signatories of the open letter cannot accept that continuing food production during the pandemic comes at the expense of the health, rights and dignity of rural and migrant workers.

In line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP), ECVC demands immediate and short-term measures, for example linked to housing and basic necessities, emergency aid and sanitary protection in the workplace, in order to ensure the health, well-being and basic human rights of these people. Furthermore, Member States and Institutions must work together to create coherent medium and long-term public policies, including a reform of the CAP that includes social conditionality. These policies must work towards eliminating the barriers and obstacles that migrant and seasonal workers have long since faced, and pave the way to a fairer, more sustainable and more just food system.

During the celebration of 1 May, ECVC wants to invite all EU citizens to re-think our societies from a different socio-economic, agrarian, food and cultural model, anchored in human rights and the sustainability of the planet, in which the integration, respect and central role of rural and migrant workers is fundamental.

Contacts:

Andoni García Arriola – ECVC Coordinating Committee: +34 636 451 569– ES, EUZ

Ramona Duminicioiu – ECVC Coordinating Committee: +40 746 337 022 – FR, ES, EN, RO

Federico Pacheco – ECVC Coordinating Committee: +34 690 651 046 – ES, FR

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