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The Importance of International Solidarity: Mexican Auto Workers Supporting the UAW

Debt, Migration, and Exploitation: The Seasonal Worker Visa and the Degradation of Working Conditions in UK Horticulture

By Catherine McAndrew, Oliver Fisher, Clark McAllister, and Christian Jaccarini - Landworkers Alliance, et. al., July 10, 2023

The report ‘Debt, Migration and Exploitation: The Seasonal Worker Visa and the Degradation of Working Conditions in UK Horticulture’ has been written in collaboration with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, New Economics Foundation, Focus on Labour Exploitation, Sustain and a farmer solidarity network of former migrant seasonal workers.

Seasonal work plays a significant role in UK agriculture. The government estimates that between 50,000 and 60,000 seasonal workers are needed annually to bring in the wider harvest across the UK, and these workers are almost entirely recruited from outside the UK.

Many of these workers are recruited via the new Seasonal Worker Visa scheme, a temporary migration programme introduced in 2019 to alleviate post-Brexit labour shortages, but a series of recent media exposés have revealed that visa holders are facing mounting issues including low wages, wage theft, excessive hours, debt bondage, and abuse by supervisors.

Our new report adds to this mounting body of evidence, and lays bare the legal and economic structures that facilitate the exploitation of farmworkers by the industrial food system, giving a platform for farmworkers to share their own account of life on the UK’s farms and develop solutions to the abuses they have faced.

The report also includes a supply chain analysis carried out by the New Economics Foundation, which reveals that migrant seasonal workers picking soft fruit retain on average just 7.6% of the total retail price of the produce.

Furthermore, the report outlines how workers who have to pay illegal broker fees (money paid by migrant workers to recruitment agencies in their home countries) can result in negative earnings. This means that after accommodation, subsistence and travel costs, some workers are essentially left out of pocket and end up paying more to come to the UK and work, than they keep as retained income to take home.

Another chapter in the report features an extended testimony from a former migrant seasonal worker from Nepal, in which they describe the exploitation of recruitment agencies, the debt associated with taking out loans to pay for agency fees and the need for the UK Government to design a more safe and secure seasonal visa scheme.

In response to issues raised in previous chapters relating to the supply chain, workers’ rights violations, and lack of redress, the final section of the report explores alternative approaches to labour rights, based on worker-led social responsibility (WSR), using the experience of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Fair Food Program (FFP) in Florida as a case study.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

UNDROP Alive and Kicking: Jessie MacInnis – NFU – Canada

Storytelling on the Road to Socialism: Episode 11: A Domestic Worker Speaks

By Candace Wolf - Storytelling on the Road to Socialism, May 30, 2023

On this episode, a woman from Bangladesh tells the story of the struggles of domestic workers to demand an end to their servitude.


  • The Internationale: Bengali version
  • Pirate Jenny: Nina Simone
  • Socialism is Better: words & music by Bruce Wolf; performed by Bruce Wolf, Noah Wolf, Gaby Gignoux-Wolfsohn

Fisheries Workers, Cut for Organizing, File Labor Board Charges

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Notes, May 1, 2023

A hundred immigrant seafood processing workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts, lost their jobs March 31 when their employer abruptly terminated its contract with the temp agency that placed them. Workers say it was retaliation for organizing.

Their fight will be a test case of new protections for immigrants who organize on the job. The company invited the fired workers to apply for their old jobs, but only a handful were actually rehired.

“When the workers got the news, they started crying, worried about how they are going to pay their rent and bills,” said Ruth Castro, who has worked for five years at the plant and almost 20 years in the industry. “I felt so sad that when I got home all the tears I held back poured out of me.”

At the job site, though, Castro remained dogged. She rallied the workers and proposed a march on the company bosses. “What they did isn’t just. They are playing with the livelihoods of us workers,” she said in Spanish.

Forty workers marched into the Eastern Fisheries processing plant on April 3 to deliver a letter to upper management—demanding that it reconsider using E-verify to screen workers for eligibility to work in the U.S. and alleging that the reverification was retaliation for exercising their legal rights to organize for mutual aid and protection.

They have filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board and an investigation is pending.

May Day and Immigrant Workers

By Asa Singer - Industrial Worker, May 1, 2023

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters
From many far off lands
There is power in a Union

-Billy Bragg, “There Is Power in a Union”

The First of May is a moment to remember who makes society turn. It’s not for condescending politicians to tell us how much they appreciate us, nor for the executives and financiers who own them to throw us a bone of appreciation for our hard work. International Workers’ Day, or May Day, is for the oppressed and exploited working class of all nations, to remember its power, celebrate its gains, mourn its dead, and fight like hell for the living and those yet to come.

It is a day that the mainstream of the American labor movement left aside in favor of a day of barbecuing in September, a marker of when school starts up again and little else. Deprived of its historical force and the memory of those who sacrificed so much for our rights, it fades into the background. If we are ever to have peace on this earth and a society fully unshackled from servitude of one person to another, it will be when the unfulfilled promises of May Day are realized as the core values of a new world, when the working class comes to power and lives in harmony with the Earth.

May Day shot back into the American political consciousness for a time, even if it has yet to fully pierce the mainstream again, in 2006. A draconian immigration measure known as H.R. 4437 (Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005) was debated in the House of Representatives. The bill would have criminalized aid to undocumented immigrants, increased border wall protections, and mandated E-Verify for employers. In response to its debate and passage in the House, undocumented activists mobilized massive waves of protests in major cities all across the United States. After weeks of sustained protests, a massive outpouring culminated on May 1st, 2006 in “El Gran Paro Estadounidense” (Great American Strike), otherwise known as “El día sin inmigrantes” (The Day Without Immigrants).

ETUI Webinar on climate-induced migration

By Mehtap Akgüç and Franklin Kimbimbi - European Trade Union Institute, February 20, 2023

Climate change and rising temperatures are the leading causes of natural disasters such as flooding, storms, land sliding, wildfires, drought, and desertification, to name a few. With the rate of change of climate, the frequency and scale of these disasters have also gone up over the last decades. Related to these natural phenomena, although it may feel like it often happens far away and not in the immediate term, climate-induced migration is emerging in several regions across countries, including Europe, leaving almost no country immune to its consequences. Even though it is hard to disentangle the root causes of migration, and several push and pull factors are at play during the mobility process, environmental reasons are emerging as a significant push factor.

Some of the key characteristics of climate-induced migration, research suggests, are that it takes place mainly within the borders of a country (i.e. internal). That return migration is very common (95 per cent of the time). While it is a complex task to come up with exact figures, it is estimated that nearly 350 million people have been displaced because of weather conditions and natural disasters from 2008-2021. Most of these people returned (except around 6 million), and an even smaller proportion crossed international borders. The type of natural disaster, fast- versus slow-onset events, also determines the nature of displacement, e.g., involuntary versus voluntary or temporary versus permanent. 

All in all, the pace of climate change and existing inequalities in adaptation and resilience capacities suggest that climate-induced migration will rise as an important issue to be addressed in the coming years. And the key question remains: how will climate change adaptation and mitigation policies interact with migration (and eventually integration) policies? 

Why You Can't Ignore This Far-Right Trend

Climate-induced migration

By staff - European Trade Union Institute, September 15, 2022

Can you imagine being displaced in your own country because of abnormal heavy rainfall or prolonged droughts?

According to the UNHCR, every year more than 20 million people leave their homes because of extreme weather events and are relocated to other areas of their country. This phenomenon, called ‘climate-induced migration’, which can cumulate in situations where people are displaced across borders, illustrates a complex nexus between migration and climate change.

This nexus is complex because, after an ecological catastrophe, it is difficult to isolate environmental factors as the sole driver pushing people to move. Many other factors come into play in the decision to migrate. For example, how well-off are the communities affected by the ecological catastrophe (economic factor)? Or what measures does the state take to cope with the situation (political factor)?

To add to the lack of clarity in this nexus, displaced people tend to underestimate the environmental factor as the main drivers of their exodus: ‘Most explain their displacement in terms of poverty, often overlooking the root cause behind the deterioration of their homes and land, and the resulting loss of productivity.’ (Source: Euronews)

Climate-induced migration is a ‘multicausal’ and ‘multidimensional’ phenomenon (Source: IOM Outlook on Migration, Environment and Climate change. International Organization for Migration (IOM). 2014, pp. 126). It occurs most often in the Global South, but this doesn't mean that the Global North is spared.

According to data provided by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and cited by the same Euronews article linked above, climate events causing displacement in Europe have more than doubled in the last years, from 43 in 2016 to 100 in 2019. The IDMC estimates that almost 700,000 people have been displaced by wildfires, storms, and floods in the last ten years (2008-2019). Russia comes out top with 141,787 people displaced, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina (91,215) and Spain (64,360).

Is it because climate-induced migration is difficult to apprehend that there is a lack of a commonly agreed definition of it at the international level? The question is open. Meanwhile, we must admit that there is currently no common European legal framework to protect people affected by environmentally induced migration.

Green jobs at the carbon border?

By Nicholas Beuret - The Ecologist, August 11, 2021

A future of carbon neutral border industries criminalising climate migrants is already happening.

The number of people crossing the English Channel seeking refuge has risen in recent weeks.

This has been accompanied by the predictable right-wing decrying of the ‘invasion’, and populist politicians and commentators calling for the criminalisation of search and rescue services.

The context is a surging right-wing political activism. This is being led by the ruling Tory party, which is seeking to use its strong government majority to criminalise a range of dissenting, rebellious - or just-not-Tory - behaviours while they have the chance.


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