`Greece to Provide Work Permits to 30,000 Migrants to Curb Labor Shortage - Olive Oil Times

Greece to Provide Work Permits to 30,000 Migrants to Curb Labor Shortage

By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jan. 2, 2024 14:03 UTC

In Greece, the gov­ern­ment has passed leg­is­la­tion to reg­u­lar­ize the sta­tus of 30,000 migrants liv­ing in the coun­try ille­gally to meet the demand for work­ers in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The migrants must prove that they have lived in the coun­try for the last three years, down from the seven years required before, and are employed when apply­ing to ben­e­fit from the new bill and obtain a work and res­i­dence per­mit.

The cen­ter-right rul­ing party under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pushed through the new bill despite inter­nal crit­i­cism, with for­mer Prime Minister Antonis Samaras argu­ing that the new law would turn Greece into a bea­con of attrac­tion for ille­gal migrants.”

See Also:Farmers in Greece Call for Subsidies Amid Low Yields

To avoid any leaks in vot­ing, the party had pre­vi­ously sum­moned all its mem­bers of par­lia­ment (MPs) to vote in favor of the bill or face dis­ci­pli­nary action.

The reg­u­la­tion we are bring­ing is not legal­iza­tion since it does not give the right of per­ma­nent res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship,” said Dimitris Kairidis, the Greek min­is­ter of immi­gra­tion and asy­lum, while defend­ing the amend­ment in the country’s migra­tion pol­icy.

It does not solve the prob­lem of the short­age of work­ers, but it is a first pos­i­tive step towards a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy we have,” he added.

Greece has long been a gate­way to Europe for migrants from Asian coun­tries. The country’s cen­ter-right gov­ern­ment has fre­quently been accused of enforc­ing a tough migra­tion pol­icy through strict laws and ille­gal push­backs at sea.

The amend­ment was also endorsed by the left­wing oppo­si­tion, whereas the smaller rightwing par­lia­men­tary par­ties rejected it.

Farmers in Greece rec­og­nized the impor­tance of the new leg­is­la­tion for the country’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor. They noted, how­ever, that the bill is only the begin­ning of secur­ing future har­vests, call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to step up mea­sures to tackle the labor short­age prob­lem in the country’s pri­mary sec­tor.

This inter­ven­tion was nec­es­sary, but unfor­tu­nately, it is not enough,” four­teen agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions from across the coun­try wrote. Many more steps – at all lev­els – are needed to ensure that Greek farm­ers can con­tinue to farm next year.”

We expect the min­is­ter of immi­gra­tion and asy­lum to con­tinue the reforms on legal migra­tion based on the informed pro­pos­als of rural stake­hold­ers from all over the coun­try,” they added.

The farm­ers also said that the num­ber of for­eign work­ers is not expected to rise in Greece since the new bill con­cerns migrants already liv­ing there.

The Greek National Interprofessional Association of Table Olives (DOEPEL) also hailed the newly intro­duced leg­is­la­tion, express­ing its desire for more farm labor­ers.

The short­age of land work­ers has dis­as­trous con­se­quences for the [olive] sec­tor and the coun­try alike,” the inter­pro­fes­sional said in a press release. In the 2022/23 crop year, 20 to 30 per­cent of green table olive vari­eties (Chalkidiki and Amfissis) remained on the trees unhar­vested, result­ing in a €27 mil­lion loss in agri­cul­tural income.”

The recent leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide res­i­dence and con­di­tional work per­mits to migrants will bring a breath of fresh air to this chronic prob­lem,” they added. We hope this is only the begin­ning of a series of fruit­ful reforms in this regard.”

The Greek farm­ing sec­tor has long faced an acute labor short­age, with the prob­lem being par­tic­u­larly evi­dent in the country’s olive and olive oil indus­try.

For the past few decades, labor­ers from Albania and other Balkan coun­tries have con­sti­tuted the main work­force in olive har­vest­ing across Greece.

However, spurred by the Covid-19 pan­demic and the low incomes offered to land work­ers after the 2008 finan­cial cri­sis, Albanian work­ers have grad­u­ally departed Greece to return to their home coun­try or head to other European coun­tries with bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, leav­ing a gap in the olive har­vest­ing work­force chal­leng­ing to fill.


Related Articles