Rural industries dependent on migrant workers

BUSINESSES in rural communities are urging the government to make the hiring of undocumented workers easier as depopulated areas are struggling to find proper workforces.

Many municipalities with less than 1000 inhabitants are struggling to staff the businesses that bring much needed investment into the areas, and therefore rely on migrant workers to fill the places that they can’t fill with native Spanish workers.

The village of San Pedro Manrique lies on the region of Soria, a province in northern Spain, is one of the most deserted in Europe, and houses just 600 inhabitants. 

The village is home to La Hoguera, a thriving chorizo curing factory and the backbone to the village’s income. 

La Hoguera, where two million chorizo sausages are cured every year, relies on immigrant workers. Of their 96 workers, 46% of them are foreign. 

“The lack of workers has never been so staggering,” says the president of Soria’s Chamber of Commerce, Alberto Santamaría.

“I think there is a lack of information,” says his wife Alba Abelleiro, who manages the company’s human resources. “I refuse to believe that with an unemployment rate of 14%, there are no Spaniards who want to work here.”

Workers have urged the government to rethink the immigration policy to cover workers who have found employment through a work contract. 

Business owners are asking that undocumented migrants be given legal status through work contracts, instead of having to wait a total of three years before they can be registered.

Abelleiro from La Hoguera has also criticised the regional employment offices in Spain for their lack of filters when sending candidates to fill roles. 

“Most of those who turn up here are not really interested in the position; the filters are failing,” she says. “There have been cases where we have asked for a cold cuts specialist and were sent a secretary from a cookie factory. Another time, we had 46 candidates but only two actually wanted the job. One was a convict whose hours didn’t suit, and the other started to insult his wife as soon as he was seated.”

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Written by

James Warren

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