Europe: COVID-19 fuels tensions over migrant farm labour as concerns over exploitation & inadequate safeguards grow

Autor/in: Rory Carroll, Sam Jones, Lorenzo Tondo, Kate Connolly & Kit Gillet - The Guardian, Veröffentlicht am: 12 May 2020

"Covid-19 crisis stokes European tensions over migrant labour", 11 May 2020

From Ireland to Italy and Germany to Romania there is rising tension over whether such workers should cross borders to harvest crops, and if so how many and under what conditions...

Host countries are torn between fear of losing harvests, fear of importing infection and a fear that predates the pandemic – that of foreigners taking jobs. Populists sense opportunity as the economic fallout solidifies political battle lines.

The fear is two-way. Migrants fear exploitation and inadequate safeguards against Covid-19 that could cause them to become infected and bring the disease home, potentially undermining eastern Europe’s relative success in suppressing the virus...

In theory strict guidelines govern migrant workers’ journeys and living and working conditions. But reality is proving messy...

The stakes are particularly high in Italy, where crops risk rotting in the fields and a political battle is escalating.

The sector relies on hundreds of thousands of migrants, most sub-Saharan Africans without proper work permits. Many live in squalid shacks cobbled from wood and plastic that bake in summer and freeze in winter...

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