An unjust food system
Such behaviour is common in the region: companies lay-off workers in order to undo the small gains won through years of struggle, eroding basic rights and returning to a cheaper and more exploitable workforce.
In November 2019, Ethical Consumer reported that employees for another farm owned by Campoverde had arrived at work to find the gates to the greenhouses locked and their employment terminated. Many of them had likewise been involved in a struggle for better contracts and pay, and they were similarly denied statutory severance pay as well as their last month’s wages. At other farms, workers are gradually laid off one-by-one if they speak out.
Workers believe a similar situation may be emerging at the company Eurosol. The Eurosol website states “We supply our products to the most important supermarket chains in Holland, Switzerland, the UK, France, Belgium and Germany."
In April Ethical Consumer was informed that union members employed by Eurosol had been moved from their respective worksites into a single worksite to isolate them from other workers. The workers say that temporary agency staff have been hired to replace them in their previous worksites. Several of these unionised workers have been issued with warnings for various reasons - once they reach three warnings they can be fired.
Little by little though the situation is changing. The two major trade unions, UGT and CCOO are at last beginning to denounce the conditions in the sector. Strikes are also becoming more frequent.
The campaign to clean up UK supermarket supply chains
The Looije group is thought to supply several UK supermarkets.
We approached Marks and Spencer for comment as the M&S logo and an M&S audit certificate dated October 2019 was featured on the Looije group website.
M&S responded “M&S has never sourced from Bio Looije and we do not source from the broader Looije group.” M&S was unable to provide assurance that the Looije group was not anywhere within the broader M&S supply chain.
The Tesco ‘Nurture’ logo is also featured on the Looije group website. Tesco declined to comment.
Migrant workers in the Almeria region of Spain have long been denied their rights by employers in the region. For more than 20 years, they have reported refusal to pay minimum wages, use of dangerous agrochemicals and denial of the right to unionise and other abuses.
These farms supply fruit and vegetables to supermarkets in the UK. All major UK supermarkets are believed to buy from the region.
* All names have been changed, to protect the identities of the workers.