Considered essential but exploited
The roughly 300 to 500 million waged workers employed in agriculture worldwide constitute one of the most marginalized groups in the global economy. In addition to these workers, large numbers of casual and temporary workers are hired by small and large growers. Work in agriculture is characterized by systematic violations of basic human and labour rights, including little or no right to join or be represented by a trade union and poor occupational health and safety standards. Agriculture ranks alongside mining and construction as industries with the highest rate of accidents, where the widespread use of migrant, temporary, and seasonal workers is a key feature.
Farmworkers are discriminated against in many ways, yet they rarely appear in debates around rural development or agricultural policy. At the same time, COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns in many parts of the world have made the role of agricultural workers and migrant workers in particular more visible. Instead of being considered “unskilled labour” as in the past, they are now seen as “essential workers”.
This series of three online events seeks to highlight the experiences of farmworkers and shed light on their working and living realities. The series will discuss, among others, the following questions: Who are farmworkers? What are their working and living realities? What role does migration and migrant labour play in the agricultural sector, especially migrant women farmworkers? What approaches to organizing them and making their interests more visible are available to trade unions and other worker organizations? Are there ongoing processes of self-organisation, and what are their demands? What needs to be done to improve their lives?
All these questions and more will be discussed with farmworker representatives and farmworkers themselves from various parts of the world. Each online event will be held in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation. The three online events are organized by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.
(Online events 1 and 2 were held on 25 March and 29 April respectively)
Online event 3: The Struggle for Farmworker Organization
Time and date: and date: Thursday, 27 May 2021, 10:00 Buenos Aires (ART), 15:00 Berlin (CEST), 15:00 Johannesburg (SAST) and 18:30 New Delhi (IST)
In many circumstances it is difficult for farmworkers to be visible in conflicts and make their voices heard. Getting organized and speaking with a unified voice is certainly crucial for farmworkers to defend their interests in struggles with farmers and against diverse forms of exploitation. What are the different sources of power trade unions have? How do they seek to organize farmworkers and what are the challenges they face? What other forms of organizing are possible and how can workers organize themselves? What different strategies and approaches exist to strengthen farmworkers and give them a say in decisions that affect them? What are innovative forms of organizing and how can we forge exceptional alliances?
• Anuradha Talwar, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, India
• Alicia Muñoz, Union of rural women workers and sea workers (ANAMURI), Chile
• Roman Pinal, United Farmworkers (UFW), USA
• Heiner Köhnen, Transnationals Information Exchange (tie), Germany
Moderation: Patricia Lizarraga, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Southern Cone
Registration required: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Kp9GkWIHTmKerI9Z_tspZA
The event will be held in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation.