Spain Lowers Barriers for Agricultural Workers to Access Wage Subsidies

The steep decline in olive production has decreased the amount of work for farm laborers in Spain and forced the government to expand its safety net.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Nov. 2, 2022 12:43 UTC

The steep fall in esti­mated olive pro­duc­tion in Spain has had a dra­matic effect on employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for sea­sonal agri­cul­tural work­ers.

Olive grow­ers are cur­rently reduc­ing work­days in the groves as many pro­duc­ers are expe­ri­enc­ing their worst har­vest in recent mem­ory.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Madrid has approved new mea­sures to ease the access to unem­ploy­ment sup­port for field labor­ers in Extremadura and Andalusia, two of the three largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions in Spain.

See Also:Olive Oil Prices Hit Record Highs in Spain After Unprecedented Market Events

A royal decree approved by the Council of Ministers has reduced the num­ber of min­i­mum work­days needed for agri­cul­tural work­ers to access unem­ploy­ment sup­port and agrar­ian income from 20 days to 10 days.

Temporary work­ers are cru­cial for the olive sec­tor, and extended pub­lic sup­port has been acti­vated already. The mea­sures will allow sea­sonal work­ers to col­lect €460 per month.

The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Food esti­mated that olive oil pro­duc­tion would drop to 780,000 tons in the 2022/23 crop year, 47 per­cent less than last sea­son.

This fig­ure, which rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, has been due to the severe drought of the sum­mer period in the main pro­duc­ing areas, which has caused prob­lems in fruit set,” the min­istry said.

While esti­mates for the har­vest are sig­nif­i­cantly lower than nor­mal, the min­istry said, these esti­mates could increase accord­ing to the cli­matic evo­lu­tion and rain­fall that may occur in the com­ing weeks since the fruit is still in the process of oil accu­mu­la­tion.”

In March, the gov­ern­ment reduced the min­i­mum num­ber of work­days until the end of the year from 35 to 20. With the new mea­sure, pub­lic sup­port to tem­po­rary work­ers will be extended to June 2023.

According to El Mundo, this is the first time in Spanish his­tory that the min­i­mum work­days needed to access pub­lic sup­port are reduced to 10. In 1994, rural employ­ment leg­is­la­tion signed by the gov­ern­ment and unions was hailed as his­tor­i­cal, and it set the min­i­mum require­ment to 40 work­days.

In recent crop years, such as 2012 and 2019, when har­vest decreased by 50 per­cent com­pared to pre­vi­ous sea­sons, the min­i­mum require­ment was set at 20 days, and it is cred­ited with safe­guard­ing sea­sonal labor­ers.

The new royal decree, which went into effect imme­di­ately, also sought to safe­guard con­sumers from exces­sive energy price rises and recon­fig­ured the salaries in sev­eral pub­lic sec­tor worker cat­e­gories.


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