By Laura Kemp • 04 May 2020 • 11:57
PARIS FAIR: Costa de Almeria present at one of world's most important trade fairs
Photo credit: Diputacion de Almeria
Last week a video recorded by a sub-Saharan immigrant in Spain went viral as he asked “Where are the three million Vox voters now? Spain needs you. Now farmers need 300,000 day-labourers but there are none available. We are going to collect your fruits. In the midst of a pandemic we are going to stand up for you, we are going to feed you, gentlemen of Vox. Now you need us. Long live emigration!”
The coronavirus crisis has not only forced citizens into quarantine, but it has also forced Vox to quarantine its heavily critical discourse regarding immigration in Spain. The leader of the party, Santiago Abascal, demands that foreigners be charged for health care in the midst of the pandemic, however the increase in demand for foreign labour in the agricultural sector during this critical time for harvesting crops has caused his critical discourse to become more flexible.
Now, the Parliamentary Group Vox has presented a Law called Proposition No in which it asks the Government for a National Plan of Aid for the Primary Sector. The initiative alleges that, due to the abrupt closure of the border with Morocco by the Covid-19 crisis, more than half of the Moroccan seasonal workers hired have not been able to go to the strawberry picking in Huelva, at the same time as there has been a drop in demand by 50 per cent and the collapse of prices.
Regarding the 6,000 Moroccans who were in fact able to cross the border before it closed, Vox believes that many of them will not be able to complete their contracts, due to lack of demand, and will find themselves in a “delicate situation” as they cannot return to their country. For this reason, he considers it “essential to relocate these workers” and “solve the legal obstacles” because although they have been hired for a specific campaign, they can work in other sectors that “do need labour,” such as the collection of blueberries or raspberries.
Although it could be argued that Vox wants to help by alleviating the difficult situation these immigrants find themselves in, the measures it proposes make it clear that this is not their concern. The far-right party stresses that under no circumstances should the contracts of Moroccan women be prolonged; if their proposal is not accepted, they must be returned to their country “immediately,” despite the closure of the border; and that “in no case will they acquire any additional rights to those held to date, nor will they generate any right to obtain residence or work authorisations for themselves or their relatives.”
Vox has presented a similar initiative to support the cherry sector, only in Catalonia, as the Unió de Pagesos estimates that 25 per cent of the 40,000 day labourers needed to collect the seasonal fruit are missing.
The government has already extended, in agreement with businessmen and social actors, the contracts of the seasonal workers trapped in Spain as a result of the closure of borders. In addition, to try to alleviate the lack of labour in the field, the government has made it possible to make an unemployment subsidy compatible with the agricultural wage and has extended the work permit to foreigners for whoever’s permit expired before June 30, but all these measures are have shown insufficient. In no case can those affected by temporary files (ERTE) or irregular immigrants be hired.
Outraged by the video released by the sub-Saharan day labourer, a veteran Madrid Vox supporter proposed, via social networks, that the party leadership should recruit a group of volunteers from its affiliates and supporters, led by its best-known leaders, to go to collect crops that may be lost due to the alarm state, which is subsequently causing food shortages. It would be, he alleged, “a gesture of patriotism.” However, he received no replies.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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