Employees of Campoverde in the Southern region of Spain say that they have been refused their last month's wages, as well as statutory severance pay.
Almeria has become notorious for the exploitation of migrant workers in its fruit and vegetable industry since the issues were first exposed in 2011. Companies in the region, which provide almost €300 million worth of produce to the UK every year, have faced repeated allegations of illegally low pay, uninhabitable living conditions and unsafe use of agricultural chemicals.
In November 2019, 40 employees for the company Campoverde arrived at work to find the gates to the greenhouses locked and their employment terminated, they say.
Many of these employees had been involved in a struggle for better contracts and pay and had threatened to strike in 2018. Since their dismissal, they have been refused statutory severance pay and their final month’s wages by the company, according to the workers.
Until November, they had been growing salad vegetables in the polytunnels.
The workers claim that the company is now trying to evict them from their housing, where some live with their families. Campoverde, like many companies in the area, arrange accommodation for the workers, but the local union, SOC-SAT, says that this leaves the employees vulnerable to eviction if employment is suddenly ended.
Often, they say, the housing that companies provide is almost uninhabitable, frequently without running water, and other basic requirements.
Workers in the area are largely unprotected by local authorities due to their migrant status with 30% of the workforce undocumented.
Campoverde did not reply to a request for comment.
SOC-SAT have also targetted Coprohnijar, a co-operative that they say is one company marketing Campoverde products, and which also shares some of the same producer-members.
The supermarkets all declined to comment, except Co-op, which referred us to a statement from the BRC.