Migrant workers under Covid-19 lockdown
As part of it’s ongoing Webinar Series on migration and mobility, the MPC will present the following presentations.
The COVID19 response has led to the emergence of vast amounts of commentary by migration scholars worldwide on the conditions faced by irregular migrant workers. Most of these contributions have recognised that for many migrants, staying home is not an option. Simultaneously, many others have also had a tendency to reinscribe notions of migrants as laborers only, or to rely on graphic depictions of decay, destitution and desperation. These narratives reduce the ability to recognise how despite and amid the crisis, irregular migrants are actively involved in processes of agency and resistance.
This presentation draws from examples from Southern Spain, the US and Mexico. It reflects on efforts on the part of irregular migrants to confront the impacts of the COVID19 response while advancing individual and collective processes for improved and dignifying labour and living conditions.
At the beginning of the global pandemic in the United States, the U.S. federal government officially declared farmworkers to be part of the “critical infrastructure workforce”. Like firefighters and doctors, farmworkers are going into the fields each day so we can all survive this crisis.
However, farmworkers are also more vulnerable – at home and at work – to contracting the coronavirus. They live in overcrowded housing, are transported in packed vans and buses, and too often have no personal protective gear. Furthermore, the town of Immokalee, where the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIV) is based, does not have a hospital to quarantine and treat positive cases. A crisis in Immokalee will affect not only the residents of Southwest Florida, but also millions of families around the country who are depending on the shelves of their local supermarkets to be stocked in the months ahead.
Marley Monacello with the CIW will discuss the particular vulnerabilities faced by U.S. farmworkers during a pandemic, as well the organization’s efforts to inform the community through popular education as well as to advocate for a field hospital, personal protective gear, and aggressive testing
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, a rise in demand for food has meant that farmworkers, and in particular migrant workers, have been recognised as key to feed EU countries, such as Italy. In this scenario, Italian farming associations have raised the alarm about wide scale labour shortages, especially with respect to the labour force from Eastern European countries, as a consequence of border lockdowns. Meanwhile, the dire and degrading living conditions of many migrant farmworkers, especially in the South of Italy, raise even more concerns at this time of health emergency.
Yet, once again, national initiatives seem aimed to maintain ‘business as usual’ and not to devote any new attention to the need to bolster wages, labour and health conditions for farmworkers. By focusing on the Italian context, this presentation will point out how the virus crisis is highlighting structural limits and inequalities of the agri-food system, which is marked by unbridled competition and cost-cutting strategies, and takes advantage of the inadequacies of migration, asylum and labour mobility policies.
Please note, a link to the Webinar will be provided to registered users.