THE Farmers Union in the Balearics welcomed 57 Colombian seasonal workers who arrived in Palma yesterday.
The visitors are to work for 9 months in the agricultural sector on the Islands. bringing to 128, the number of foreign workers who have come to the islands since the beginning of the year. Apart from Colombia, countries of origin of the seasonal workforce include Chile, Ecuador, Poland, Morocco and the Ukraine.
Pere Calafat, Farmers' Union Secretary, confirmed that so far, 229 people had been given permits to come to the Baleaics to work in the agricultural sector in 2004.
Not all have yet arrived on the Islands and it is hoped that arrangements will be made for the figure to rise to 300 by the end of the year.
Since 1998, the Farmer's Union has asked for permits for workers from other countries, mostly from outside the European Union, to be processed for seasonal agricultural work.
The move was prompted by continuing difficulty suffered by farmers on the Islands in finding local people willing to do agricultural work.
Calafat gave prominence to the satisfaction felt by both company owners and the workforce who have participated in this project. The success of the arrangement will enable the temporary workers to make repeat visits to the Balearics as a seasonal labour force for the same agricultural companies.
The Farmers' Union began soliciting work permits for only 20 people in 1998, a figure which has progressively increased until this year when up to 300 permits will be granted. Of the 229 successful applications made in 2004, 190 of them have been made on behalf of Colombians.
A further 21 seasonal workers are due to arrive within the next few days, said the Farmers' Union representative, whilst the remainder will arrive around October and November time.