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/Context

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Romanians leave to work temporarily in Western European countries.

/Destinations

Italy and Spain, followed by Germany and the UKmore recently, are the main countries of destination.

/Types of work

Seasonal labor is most of the time physical labor and has negative consequences on workers' health.

Agriculture

Construction

Turism

Caretaking

The food Industry

Transportation

„A lot of people have ruined themselves abroad. It’s not that easy” (Pompiliu C.)

Reasons for leaving

Job insecurity, lacking the opportunity to earn a decent income, to get bank loans for a house, to make savings or have a retirement plan, forces Romanian workers to accept short-term employment in Western countries.

The income earned in just a few months of seasonal work abroad far surpasses a year’s minimum wage in Romania.

/Comparison

Minimum wage across Europe, în 2020

460

Euro

Minimum wage in Romania

1625

Euro

Minimum wage in Belgium

1584

Euro

Minimum wage in Germany

1583

Euro

Minimum wage in the UK

1539

Euro

Minimum wage in France

1108

Euro

Minimum wage in Spain

The deregulation and flexibilization of the labor market

For many years now, across Europe, there has been a tendency toward the deregulation and flexibilization of the labor market, which has reduced protective measures for employees in relation to their employers.

This has considerably weakened the workers’ standing before business owners. In the absence of any form of self-organization, the workers are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and forms of exploitation.

/Contracts

Different types of contracts

through temporary work agents

through abroad recruitment agencies

through secondment contracts

through free independent contract agreements

informal recruitment, through relatives and friends

/Social media

Job searches and recruitment ads posted on social media workers' groups

/Intermediators

A new phenomenon has thrived within the seasonal work context: employment intermediation.

Excessive red tape, legislation differences across countries, but also language barriers, have created contexts in which certain forms of employment intermediation becomes abusive. In these cases, intermediators take advantage of the people’s need to find jobs as quickly as possible, charge high fees for their services, and provide contracts in languages the signatories do not understand, or that contain hidden clauses.

Please be careful who you send your personal data to. The so-called recruiters are breaking three fundamental laws. Personal data processing, filing taxes, and racial bias.

263 42 Comments 58 Shares

Claudia M.

They’re obviously cons. First of all, German companies have German phone numbers. And they don’t ask for your personal data like that, through Whatsapp.

Ramona J.

Wow… Someone needs to kick this guy’s ass

Cristian T.

The diaspora’s full of this breed

Damian A.

I must let you know that in order to submit an application file with all the legal forms, here, on German territory, they definitely have to attach an ID number. You can’t submit a file based on nothing but empty talk. Besides, how can they be sure that your name really is Alexandrescu, for example?

/Precarious work

Romanian's temporary jobs abroad are “precarious work”, as they are defined by one of the following characteristics:

(1) instability – uncertainty regarding work continuity;

(2) insufficient protection against workplace abuse (discriminatory practices, wrongful termination), as well as insufficient social protection (access to pension plans, health care, unemployment benefits, etc.);

 

(3) the lack of individual or collective control over working conditions, pay, working hours, etc.;

(4) uncertainty regarding remuneration – an insufficient or irregular income;

/COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic precarious work becomes essential work.

European countries tried to protect themselves from the spread of the new Coronavirus by closing their borders to foreign citizens. Initially, governments turned toward the local workforce (the unemployed, refugees, university students, the retired), hoping they would manage to find the hundreds of thousands of workers needed to harvest fruit and vegetables.

But their efforts failed. Therefore, in early April, international travel restrictions for seasonal workers were lifted.

/Workers in the press

Romanian seasonal workers became “saviors” or “critical workers” and were appreciated for their resilience to hard work in agriculture.

/Solidarity

Forms of solidarity

Even though they are considered essential for the societies in which they work, seasonal workers are often faced with abuse or violations of their contractual rights.

 

In some cases, they are forced to resort to protests and other collective forms of airing their grievances.

/Local communities

When they saw us protesting out in the street, they joined us. And they were shouting with us, and they came and kissed me and told me, 'Don’t worry, Anca, dear, we’re on your side.' The whole country saw it.

— Anca Berki

  • Article on beyondeurope.net
  • 23 may 2020
  • Read more

/Syndicates

Faire Mobilität

In Germany, the Faire Mobilität  trade union initiative provides seasonal workers with information in Romanian, mobilizes help and protest participants.

 

/Local organisations

The pandemic was like a magnifying glass that showed us, down to the last detail, how far the exploitation can go, but especially how little regular citizens care about where the food on their table comes from.

— Marius Hanganu

  • Article on teleleu.eu
  • 30 November 2020
  • Read more

/Social media

Online communities

On Facebook seasonal workers’ groups people exchange information about the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, about the working conditions and the reliability of different employers and intermediaries.

 

/Scope

The 'Harvesting Solidarity' project is our message of solidarity with the mobile workers and their right to decent work and a decent life.

The consequences of deregulating the labor market in European countries are far more strongly felt by Eastern European workers. In their countries, governments fail to provide them with decent living wages.

Once they arrive to work abroad, both Western and Eastern states fail these citizens, in their mission to protect their rights.

 

Harvesting Solidarity is implemented by Asociația VIRA and ViraFilms, with the support of European Cultural Foundation through Culture of Solidarity Fund 2020.

Discover the workers' personal stories throughout the six episodes