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Tag: migrant workers

The cost of saving Europe’s asparagus harvest

In our “Europe without borders” that stipulates all European citizens have the same inalienable rights, the reality is very far from the ideal. The COVID-related scandals surrounding seasonal workers, slaughterhouses and overcrowded living facilities have brought an unspoken societal consensus to the forefront – namely, which lives we deem most valuable and worthy of protection.

As the economic plunge caused by COVID-19 erodes prosperity across the European Union, the distinctive vulnerability of migrant workers and minorities has been increasingly exposed. Although this discussion has focused on the staggeringly high mortality rates among the black and minority populations in the United States and the United Kingdom, a much less discussed, yet equally beleaguered, group includes seasonal and precarious workers from Central and Eastern Europe employed along both sides of the Dutch-German border, whom the economic slump provoked by the pandemic has turned into a disposable resource at greater risk of infection.

September 7, 2020 - Alexandra Wishart

Picking strawberries in a pandemic

Recently, there were over two million migrant workers in Poland. When the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic closed down companies and factories, many of them were left out of work. Some of them went back to their homes. Then came another problem – it turned out that the Polish economy does not function so well without foreign workers.

Every few minutes, a new van arrives at the market in Czerwińsk nad Wisłą – a village about 65 kilometres northwest of Warsaw. Crowds of merchants converge around every one of them. The driver does not even have time to park or open the door, the merchants surround him. The vehicle stops, the door opens. Another one arrives, with only a few goods, taking up a third of the van. There are several dozen boxes of strawberries inside. These are the only ones available. The crowd shouts: “How much? How much?”

September 7, 2020 - Magdalena Chodownik Omar Marques

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