Pushed to crisis point
The coronavirus has pushed the already appalling conditions to crisis point. For years, workers have faced the systematic violation of their rights. Now the pandemic has exposed what this means for the workers, who are struggling to survive under current conditions.
Migrant workers have been confined to the cramped settlements where they live, often without adequate access to running water, basic sanitation or food. Many are unable to work during the pandemic, leaving them and their families with little or no income.
Supermarkets must take responsibility for these chronic problems in their supply chains. We are also calling on them to support immediate relief efforts by local organisations, to provide vital supplies during the pandemic.
The region is believed to supply all major UK supermarkets. 97% of Spain’s berry crop is grown in Huelva, and over 35% of the country’s total fruit and vegetable exports are from Almeria.
Ethical Trade Initiative
The Ethical Trade Initiative published a briefing on the 4th May on the responsibility of companies towards migrant workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. It urged all members to take a number of measures to ensure that the rights and welfare of migrant workers are upheld. Aldi, Asda, Co-op, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose are all members.
Members should start by mapping their supply chains to identify the presence of migrant workers and understand how the current context is affecting them. In the absence of regular on-site audits, NGOs and local trade unions should be engaged in order to provide partial audit reports. The ETI also stressed the need to consider the intersectionality of migrant workers’ discrimination so that all factors which could compound discrimination, such as gender, ethnicity, cast, and age, are accounted for.
We believe that supermarkets should take these steps throughout their supply chains, not only with direct suppliers.
Covid-19 Crowdfunder appeal
Ethical Consumer has launched a Crowdfunder with the SOC-SAT union in Almeria and Huelva, and with the grassroots campaign organisation The Collective of African Workers in Huelva.
Money raised will go towards food, medicine, nappies and other supplies for those confined to the shanty towns.
The Crowdfunder reached its initial target in under four hours, and has now raised over £20,000.