Migrant Farm Workers in Spain Reach Crisis Point

Farm Workers

The UN has warned that migrant workers on Spanish fruit and salad farms are currently trapped in dire conditions due to the lockdown in place as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Tara Pilkington reports.

Migrant workers on farms that provide fruit and vegetables for UK supermarkets are trapped in dire conditions whilst under lockdown, with some living in unsuitable cardboard and plastic shelters without food or running water, causing them to live in fear as they are unprotected against the virus due to unhygienic living conditions and working side-by-side on farms. 

Many of these workers, who are also undocumented, are living in settlements between greenhouses on farms in the southern Spanish provinces of Huelva and Amleria, both of which are key regions for European supply chains. 

Many local union activists have been supporting the migrant workers, bringing them vital supplies while Spain is in lockdown.

Philip Alston, a UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, visited spain in March and released a report which was highly critical of the conditions for migrant workers in Huelva. 

Last month Philip Alston, the UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, visited Spain; his report was highly critical of the conditions for migrant workers in Huelva.

In this report, Alston said: “In Huelva, I met with workers living in a migrant settlement in conditions that rival the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. They are kilometres away from water, and live without electricity or adequate sanitation.”

It is currently estimated that a third of the migrant workforce of farm labour do not have the legal right to work and have faced great difficulties under lockdown.

Spain is currently set to lift the lockdown in the coming weeks, however activists are warning that the situation is still very dangerous for vulnerable workers who are still under an ongoing risk of further Covid-19 outbreaks.

  • Read the full UN report from Philip Alton here