Tag Archives: seasonal workers

Germany exploits foreign workers amid coronavirus | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and surroundings | DW | Instant News

“I will never return to Germany, even for a vacation,” Mariana Costea, a seasonal worker from Romania, told DW. He spent two months working hard on a Bavarian farm until he decided that was all he could take. Mariana was forced to work overtime without pay, had to sleep in a dirty dormitory, and risked contracting the corona virus – because no safety precautions were taken.

“I can’t accept that eight of us have to share a bedroom and bathroom,” he recalled. Even worse, 30 seasonal workers are expected to share a single bathroom.

Every morning 14 or 15 of them will pile up into minivans with only eight chairs to be driven out to work in the fields. In the evening, Eastern Europeans will return to their crowded accommodations. Costea said those responsible did not make efforts to enforce social distance and other preventive measures to prevent them from contracting the corona virus.

German slaughterhouses face scrutiny after COVID-19 outbreak

We can no longer close our eyes

Mariana Costea is one of the many Eastern European seasonal workers who recently spoke about work disasters and the living conditions they experienced in Germany. They have related horrific experiences as meat processing factory workers, shipping men and women, caregivers, construction workers and seasonal farm workers. But much of this has been known for years, as German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil acknowledged publicly at a recent press conference in Berlin. But the difference is that the pandemic makes it impossible to ignore this situation.

Alex, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, told DW about his experience of spending two years working for Tönnies, the largest meat producer in Germany. He worried that he would face serious consequences if someone found out his identity. “They make us work between 10 and 13 hours a day, instead of 8 hours with a 45-minute break,” he told DW. “It’s tiring, and psychologically draining.”

Most seasonal workers are employed by subcontractors; workers are employed by external companies – and not meat producers, who are not directly responsible for the workers. Alex is also employed by a subcontractor who oversees the meat production department. But he also has to accept subcontractor requirements.

Most subcontracted workers cooperate – that is, when workers are paid according to the goods processed, not the actual time spent working. Alex said the expected assignment could not be fulfilled during 8 regular work hours. This, he said, was a systematic exploitation, adding that whoever protested was fired. German labor standards do not exist.

According to many workers’ reports, little or no preventive action is taken to protect workers in the Tönnies meat processing factory. When, in early June, around 1,500 workers out of 7,000 tested positive for the corona virus, its development was hardly surprising. As a result, the Gütersloh region, where the site is located, is placed on lockdown.

Federal prosecutors are now taking legal action against companies and many subcontractors who are accused of violating German law regarding the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

Read more: Germany: Romanian workers reveal terrible conditions in slaughterhouses

Seasonal housing workers (DW / S. Höppner)

Dangerous housing conditions for seasonal workers in North-Rhine Westphalia

Subcontractors are difficult to monitor

There are many subcontractors and recruitment agencies that supply labor to German companies. Watching how they treat workers and placing them at home, however, is difficult.

Marius Hanganu advises Eastern European workers hired by subcontractors on behalf of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). Hanganu, who was born in Romania, said the German customs and health department was responsible for ensuring that labor and housing standards were met. But, he said, the check was not as complete as it should be.

Hanganu recalls how Bavarian companies received information about inspections to be carried out by the customs office. “It is puzzling how the state department could have such a” leak “… there must be a mole,” he said. According to Hanganu, there must be informers in the echelons higher than the agency.

DW reaches out to the German Central Customs Authority for comments about claims. “There is no knowledge about this!” said the federal authority in a short answer.

After news of coronavirus infections surged on German farms and meat processing plants due to grim work and housing conditions, German lawmakers were forced to act. They plan to ban the practice of subcontracted labor in the meat industry on January 1, 2021. Since then, companies must directly employ all their workers.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil has submitted a bill that will be debated and, potentially, adopted after a summer parliamentary recess. However, it is not clear why this step will only be applied to the German meat industry.

Heil told DW: “There are areas where labor standards need to be monitored; we will raise standards so we have more influence in important sectors.”

“There are other areas where this is about safety inspections in the workplace. It (inspections) will be increased mandatory so we can go to vulnerable areas more often.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Germany views harder lockouts during local outbreaks

Men in buildings in Lower Bavaria |  Erntehelfer angesteckt (image-alliance / dpa / A. Weigel)

COVID-19 infection occurs in the city of Mamming, low Bavaria.

An opportunity to change

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Bavaria once again highlights the spotlight of businesses that seem to ignore coronavirus prevention measures – and the lack of state checks to enforce them. More than 170 seasonal workers in an agricultural business in Mamming, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Munich, tested positive for COVID-19. Most workers come from Romania. Others come from Bulgaria, Hungary and Ukraine. Business has been placed under quarantine.

At a press conference on Monday, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder said the company had consciously violated hygiene rules and other standards – prompting state leaders to call for stricter and unspecified inspections, both day and night.

Söder also suggested increasing fines for such violations from € 5,000 to € 25,000 ($ 5,800 to $ 29,000). In addition, Söder wants to see all seasonal workers in Bavaria tested for coronavirus. Complete regional lockdown might also be looming, he said.

The pandemic has drawn attention to the inhumane treatment of workers that have been taking place in Germany for years. The outbreak might provide an opportunity to finally improve the lives of many Eastern European workers in the country.

Alex is confident that without a pandemic, everything will continue as before. He now starts working in a different meat processing company. He has been given a permanent position – and says he will never allow himself to be exploited.


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New Zealanders really need to shave millions of Australian sheep in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis | Instant News

Australian sliding contractors and wool producers worry about the lack of a national shaver with the closing of the COVID-19 border and travel restrictions, making it difficult for New Zealand shavers to enter the country.

Every August an incoming wave of 500 shearers from New Zealand arrives in Australia for spring shear – but not this year.

They handled at least seven million sheep for three months and returned to New Zealand for their own season in December.

Extension of the season creates problems

Secretary of the Australian Shearing Contractors’ Association (SCAA) Jason Letchford said the lack of shadowing labor was a major concern for the industry.

“We are really in a desperate situation to get sheared sheep this year in the spring,” Ms Letchford said.

He said if the sheep were not shaved on time, the season would be extended, which would cause financial losses for producers and also pose a risk to animal welfare.

The lack of shavers in looming in Australia because 500 New Zealand shavers might not be able to enter Australia for shaving in the spring. This photo was taken before the social distance requirements were imposed for the sliding industry.(ABC Rural: The Jeffery Way)

“If you don’t have good farming practices, you lose your assets,” he said.

SCAA is working with the Department of Agriculture, Home Affairs and the state government to find an agreement on New Zealand shavers coming to Australia.

Letchford believes a fast and appropriate solution is needed.

“I realize that the government is running a very narrow path between security and keeping the virus at stake, but there are jobs and commercial problems at stake,” he said.

“That can’t just be a holistic approach where we rotate taps in one area and that has unintended consequences in other industries.

Wool is handled in a sliding shed.
Woolsheds may have to operate with a minimum of staff this season.(North and West ABC SA: eloisesa)

“At this point an entry of $ 3,000 for quarantine and actually passing through an Australian port makes it look like no one can find it.”

Letchford said with the drought breaking out in many parts of Australia, the national sheep herd will only surge from 65 million heads now because farmers want to rebuild and maintain more stock and more shearers needed.

Shear delays risk to animal health

Craig Gilbert, who runs the Woolaway Contract Shearing in Naracoorte, South Australia, is concerned he might not be able to secure a full workforce if the agreement for NZ shavers entering Australia does not change.

A man stands on a wool behind the wool bales.
Craig Gilbert said half of their workforce came from abroad or between countries.(Provided: Craig Gilbert)

His efforts bring half of his staff into the area as seasonal workers from abroad and abroad, but he may have to work with a framework workforce and ask farmers for more flexible sliding arrangements.

“We really don’t have the number of shavers in Australia to cover all of that to complete it within the time frame needed by farmers,” Gilbert said.

“It’s not just as you can say we will shave your sheep in December rather than October. Of course the season changes, and it gets a little hotter, animals can suffer from grass seeds, they can suffer flies, and it’s sad for animals that. “

He felt “somewhat frustrated” to see New Zealand shavers refusing to enter Australia and believed that the Department of Agriculture needed to improve and understand the importance of shavers coming from New Zealand, which is now a COVID-19 free country.

One cannot learn to shear sheep last night

Letchford realized that many Australians were not working because of COVID-19 and were looking for work. Cutting is still a skilled trade that must be learned from time to time.

“We do welcome people in the industry but the reality is you will not be able to pick it up overnight, so we will not be able to train Virgin flight people to become shaves suddenly,” Letchford said. .

Sheep are herded into cages to be shaved
In Australia alone they expect New Zealand shavers to handle at least seven million sheep during the spring period.(ABC News: Fiona Breen)

“People come to this industry and start working on their own and we will like it, and there is a lot of training available for that.”

However, he did not know of anyone from the industry affected by COVID-19 who tried to enter the shear and wool handling industry.

“It is frustrating that we cannot easily access workers in New Zealand.”

New Zealand is also worried about the lack of shavers themselves

But it’s not just the Australian sliding warehouse that is short on staff.

The New Zealand industry is also worried about labor shortages for its peak season from November to March, when hair shavers from Australia and the UK usually flock to the country.

President of the New Zealand Slide Association Mark Barrowcliffe said the delay of their season was on the cards and despite talks with their Immigration Department there was an additional challenge to bringing shears overseas to the country.

New Zealanders are afraid to see a shortage of shavers during their peak season in November too.(ABC News: Ryan Sheridan)

“We want to do it faithfully for our employees and countries wherever they come or go.”

While the industry remains hopeful about their discussions with the Immigration Department, Mr Barrowcliffe said they also improved local goods to partially prevent a looming shortage.

However, with the situation of New Zealand shavers heading to Australia, he believes there is a ‘greater reluctance’ of workers due to the increasing cases of corona virus in Australia.

Someone tore wool.
Delaying the sliding season will have an impact on the quality of wool.(ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer)

“We are a very family-oriented industry, so once you move from your current family, you cannot immediately return if something happens, and the family that comes first will definitely take care of some people at home,” he said.

The decision rests with the Border Commissioner

The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said in a statement given to ABC that Australia’s WoolProducers (WPA) and National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) had identified the need for more than 480 New Zealand shavers and seasonal shedhand for July. -November.

“The department recognizes that the wool industry has traditionally used mobile workers, including groups who have moved from New Zealand to Australia for most workers and that prolonged delays in shaving can cause serious problems with animal welfare, on commercial impacts for wool producers, “the statement said.

WPA and the NFF are seeking support for New Zealand shavers and homeowners to enter Australia using an exemption from the Australian Border Commissioner.

In the statement, the Department of Agriculture said, at this time when the Australian border was closed, the only way to get workers was for travelers to seek release from the Australian Border Commissioner based on workers who provided critical skills.

“In the end, this is the decision of the Australian Border Commissioner to approve or disapprove border liberation.”

The movement of workers between various countries is governed by the country’s health directives, the statement said.

“It is important that prospective workers and employers understand the requirements before they travel.”

“The feedback from the industry to the department is that the recent closure of the border, in general, is well managed and does not cause significant difficulties.”


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Runaway beekeepers: Important Nicaraguan workers for Canadian food supply chains are on their way | Instant News

Ash Apiaries manage thousands of colonies, also known as nests.


A chartered plane carrying an unusual combination of travelers is scheduled to depart from Nicaragua to Canada on Monday: temporary foreign workers are bound for commercial bee operations, and Canadians have been stranded in Central America amid a COVID-19 pandemic.

Flights out of the capital city of Managua have been suspended because international travel is slowing, a complicated effort to bring workers to Canada to help manage the spring nest making season – an important time when bees reproduce and develop into healthy colonies. Led by a queen who lays up to 2,000 eggs every day, honey bees are good for more than the name implies; They are very important for cross pollinating fruits, vegetables and canola.

To prevent labor shortages that can have an impact on the food supply chain and injure the beekeeping industry, the Canadian Honey Board takes action on its own. At a cost of around $ 200,000, the board chartered the plane to fly 80 skilled workers from Nicaragua to Canada, landed first in Calgary, and then continued east to Saskatoon, Brandon and Toronto.

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“I expect 10 people, and it is very important for them to arrive here,” said Bryan Ash, a partner at Ash Apiaries, a large family that runs beekeeping operations that cross-pollinate orchards in BC, and make honey in Manitoba. He is one of three dozen beekeepers who will pay the council for their seat in flight.

Nicaragua’s workforce is among 60,000 seasonal farms and other temporary workers who come to Canada each year – an important infusion of labor into the agricultural sector. The federal government last month allowed the entry of foreign workers, stipulating that they must be quarantined for 14 days. But travel has been delayed because visa offices in foreign countries have been closed and commercial flights have become scarce.

When the honey board began checking flights, executive director Rod Scarlett reached Global Affairs Canada. “We have never been involved in this, so I want to make sure we cover our base,” he said. “We also ask, ‘Do you need anyone out?'” The answer is yes. Around 40 Canadians are expected to board the same plane.

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“[The Canadian Honey Council] “has coordinated directly with the Canadian embassy in Managua regarding arrangements and offering seats to Canadians who want to return to Canada,” Global Affairs spokesman Krystyna Dodds said in an email.

Mr Ash flew nine workers to Canada in February, before the pandemic closed most economic activities. That’s about half of the workers who usually arrive at this time of the year. (He tried to fly with several other men in the last few weeks, but they were twice refused at the Managua airport because of rapidly expanding border controls.)

Ash Apiaries manage thousands of colonies, also known as nests. Each colony can have as many as 80,000 bees. Several thousand of Mr Ash’s colonies were already in the Okanagan Valley, where they had winter in warmer weather. Soon, beekeepers will need to transport insects in trailers – 700 colonies per load – to apple and cherry orchards that need cross pollination to produce fruit.

“Cherry farmers who work with us in SM. very nervous, “Mr. Ash said.” They want their cherries to be pollinated. “

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Keep an eye on the temperature overnight and during the day, Mr. Ash suspected he would also soon need to move 8,000 colonies from the indoor temperature control facility at Gilbert Plains, Man., Outside, where they would look for pollen and nectar that would feed the nest and form the basis for honey. The vaginal willow tree begins to grow in the province of Prairie. Time is of the essence.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told The Globe and Mail that his understanding was that around 1,000 temporary foreign workers arrived to work in the agriculture sector last week, with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 expected to come this week.

“That will obviously be slower than usual, but still, we are continuing,” Bibeau said. “We anticipate shortages. [in temporary foreign workers]. It’s still hard to say how much. Will it be 70 percent coming? Is it 80 percent? Hard to say. “

Bibeau encouraged non-working Canadians to raise their hands to agricultural labor that was desperately needed, but Mr. Scarlett says managing a bee colony requires techniques that develop with experience. Workers must be able to identify the queen among tens of thousands of worker bees and hundreds of males, known as drones; if the queen does not lay eggs to standard, she will be killed and replaced.

Workers must have sharp eyes to detect mite attacks that can destroy the hive, and they must feed enough bees of nectar and pollen bread to prevent starvation. Wearing a jacket and veil but often working with their bare hands, workers must also be prepared to be stung dozens of times a day (experienced beekeepers build immunity to poisons).

According to the honey council, there are around 10,000 honey beekeepers who operate a total of 725,000 honey bee colonies from coast to coast. While some hives are managed by fans, most are run by commercial beekeepers. “The biggest concern that commercial operations have is labor,” said Mr. Scarlett.

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Workers and Canadians on chartered planes arriving Monday will be taken in temperature before boarding and must wear masks during the trip to protect against the possible spread of the virus.

“We’re glad we can get two things done at once,” said Mr. Scarlett. “The world is really chaotic now. It’s great being able to give Canadians a chance to go home. “

With a report from Tavia Grant

Now it is recommended that you wear face masks in crowded public settings such as grocery stores and pharmacies, pay attention to how to make three masks recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Written instructions are available at tgam.ca/masks

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