Spitou works in Almeria Spain where more than half of Europe’s fruit and vegetables are grown. Much of the produce that he and his colleagues grow and pick goes to UK supermarkets. But for many years workers from the region have protested against serious exploitation.
Ethical Consumer is calling on UK supermarkets to act and make sure that their suppliers uphold workers’ rights.
The problems faced by workers
Miles of plastic greenhouses cover the Almerian landscape, where peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables are grown. The greenhouses are surrounded by improvised shelters, where many of the workers live and which are periodically razed by local authorities. Their inhabitants say that they are overcrowded and often without running water.
Workers here often receive as little as 32 euros for an eight-hour day. Employees are frequently expected to continue working whilst dangerous agrichemicals are being sprayed in the greenhouses or to use them without proper protection.
Some workers have been sacked for striking and the local union has reported physical, verbal and legal threats to stop the members electing representatives.