We are appalled by news today that migrant workers in southern Spain are facing workers' rights abuses. The Daily Mail has published a story, ahead of a Channel 4 News investigation tonight, alleging that vegetable pickers in southern Spain are being denied basic hygiene facilities. A linked investigation alleges that seasonal agency workers on salad farms face serious health issues due to dangerous use of pesticides, and are left unpaid for hours they have worked.
The Daily Mail story says that migrant workers face unhygienic conditions whilst picking vegetables for British supermarkets in Almeria, southern Spain. It says pickers are made to use bushes near where vegetables are grown as toilets and are not provided with soap or water to wash their hands. It says some workers live in filthy shacks made of wood and plastic sheeting, near the picking fields. The linked investigation alleges that seasonal agency workers picking salad in Murcia are made to work around dangerous pesticides, causing some to fall ill with painful sinus conditions and bronchitis. There are also allegations of unpaid wages.
ETI Director Peter McAllister said: “Whether a direct or indirect supplier, supermarkets and all suppliers in their supply chains have a responsibility for upholding workers' rights. We are appalled by these allegations, which show a failure to protect some of the most basic workers' rights. We have spoken to our member supermarkets named in this story, who informed us that they are taking urgent action in response to these allegations. This includes launching an immediate investigation with their suppliers and agencies and developing a time-bound plan for addressing these issues. There is an agreed need to work together collaboratively. We will be following up with our member supermarkets to understand how the actions they take will deliver positive change for these migrant workers in Spain.”
The full story will be broadcast tonight on Channel 4 News at 7pm.