The Farmers Union and the Asaja agricultural businesses association need 450 seasonal workers for harvesting fruit and vegetables. At present, they can rely on there being only around one hundred. The rest would normally come from Colombia, many of whom come each year and are considered to be well qualified for work that lasts some six months.
Sebastià Ordines, the general secretary of the Farmers Union, says that consideration is being given to the recruitment of students and unemployed people, which is what the agricultural sector in Catalonia is attempting. "But we don't know if this will work." Joan Simonet of Asaja notes that recruitment campaigns through employment offices have been tried but that they haven't been successful. In one case, "for 180 jobs, only twenty showed up."
Simonet is critical of the national ministry of agriculture having paralysed "bureaucratic procedures" for temporary working. "So, when the confinement is lifted, we will have to start the process from scratch. This can take up to two months." Asaja believes that all the necessary mechanisms should be in place for when the confinement ends.
The livestock sector will also be affected by the lack of seasonal workers, who typically come from Poland and Romania and help with sheep shearing. It is reckoned that there will be a 25% shortage of workers.
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