The transnational recruitment of temporary Latino workers in European agriculture
Set up as alternatives to permanent or to illegal immigration, temporary migration programmes promote an alleged triple-win model that deserves to be questioned. According to the rhetoric, employment agencies, wage workers and employers profit equally; however, these programmes create a supply of temporary workers with fewer rights than nationals and foreign residents. Labour markets compete over temporary labour, constituted for example by interim contracts, seasonal contracts and contracts in origin, to supply the sectors of the European economy experiencing labour shortfalls, predominantly agriculture.1 In this context, ‘posting’ is a specific kind of labour recruitment – namely, a temporary transfer to another job within the same organization. In the European context, this happens when a company based in one EU member state sends its employees to another member state to provide services there for a limited period no longer than twelve months (EFFAT, 2010). In this chapter, I explore the social and wage deregulation in this secondary market for temporary, precarious employment, which is poorly paid and not unionized. I argue that the existence of generalized ‘flexi-insecurity’ (flexi-insécurité) in the agricultural sector is the basis for circular mobility programmes in Europe. Flexiinsecurity palliates the competitive distortion of production markets and leads to the erosion of fundamental rights and privileges of the individual, the worker and the migrant – hence, the citizen. The chapter is structured as follows. First, I outline the importance and scope of mobilities and reflect on the institutional background and regulations of the specific kind of labour mobility related to industrial agriculture. I illustrate the conditions of mobility exchange between Ecuador (country of origin), Spain (country of destination) and France (country of placement). Second, I focus on the posting of Latin American migrants by the Spanish temporary employment agency Terra Fecundis, who is present in various European countries. Following that, I analyse the triangular system of complex legal relations between three actors: the temporary employment agencies, the wage workers posted by the temporary employment agencies and the French employers. Interviews conducted with temporary workers recruited from Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru between 2007 and 2011 further underpin how labour rights in the agriculture of the French region of Provence have been deregulated. The current context of crisis and of economic,
political and social uncertainty, I conclude, promotes contract relations that are favourable to businesses but detrimental to wage earners.