葡萄牙農業 開始仰賴外勞
【聯合報╱By RAPHAEL MINDER╱陳世欽譯】
Workers From Abroad Pick Portugal’s Fruit

ODEMIRA, Portugal — Portugal may have 15 percent unemployment, but that does not mean that Reiter Affiliated Companies, an American fruit producer, can find local people to pick berries on its 76-hectare farm here.

Last year, the company began a nationwide recruitment campaign and hired 40 Portuguese. Half quit after the first day. By the end of the week, not a single local worker was left.

“They wanted a job, but this wasn’t what they were looking for, because it was basically too hard for too little money,” said Arnulfo Murillo, the farm’s production manager.

Instead, the farm has imported a third of its labor force all the way from Thailand — 160 of 450 employees — a more expensive alternative .

The reasons the farm work does not appeal to the Portuguese are complex, but the primary one is that it makes little economic sense .

For its agricultural sector, about 2.4 percent of the country’s economic output, the problem of finding labor has been exacerbated by Portugal’s low minimum wage , still ample unemployment benefits and, not least, an image problem.

Working on a farm is “very badly considered in Portugal, as a job from the past rather than the future,” said José Alberto Guerreiro, the mayor of the municipality of Odemira.

Laura Miquelino, 32 , has been unemployed for a year. Even so, she said, she would work on a farm only for higher pay. “The Portuguese state has set a minimum wage that doesn’t really justify doing this kind of work, because it means you’re taking almost no money home from what is a hard and very time-consuming job,” she said.

As part of the terms of its 78 billion euro ($106 billion) bailout, the government almost halved the period for which unemployment benefits could be claimed to 18 months. It is now offering exemptions from social security payments to companies that hire new staff members. But those measures have not created incentive enough for many young Portuguese.

European Union subsidies have contributed to the problem b y reducing the pressure to restructure the farming sector and bolster its profitability, according to Catarina Santos Ferreira, a labor lawyer.

At the depths of Portugal’s economic crisis three years ago, RAC turned to importing labor from Asia .

Bringing in Thai workers requires visas and proof that RAC cannot find local workers. It also costs RAC almost 2,000 euros more per year than if it hired a local worker. The company pays for a return airline ticket and provides housing .

Still, the return on investment is high because the Thais work very quickly and carefully , according to Eduardo Lopez, a Californian who heads RAC’s Portuguese operations.

RAC pays fruit pickers Portugal’s minimum wage, equivalent to $770 per month. It also offers a bonus system for extra production . Last year, Thai workers earned about $1,440 a month, about $135 more than the overall average .

Today, just under 100 employees are Portuguese, 50 of whom pick berries. The rest are technicians or office administrators.

In addition to the Thai workers, others are from Eastern Europe, or from countries like Brazil, Morocco and Nepal.

Sunil Pun, a Nepalese fruit picker, said many Nepalese also moved to Portugal because it was easy to gain working residency.

Mr. Pun previously worked on a chicken farm in Poland. “The money is better in northern Europe, but the treatment is more equal here and there is less racism,” he said.

Carlos Bernardino, a chemical engineer who is an elected member of Odemira’s local assembly, said, “Everybody here wants to work in public administration, but I don’t know anybody who wants to say they work in agriculture.”



















    Andk 發表在 痞客邦 留言(0) 人氣()