The Citrus Management Committee (CGC) and Cooperatives Agroalimentàries de la Comunitat Valenciana, the two associations that have been negotiating the renewal of the "pickers" agreement with the class unions (UGT-PV and CCOO-PV) for some weeks, have warned that the proposals as regards salaries and hiring are inadequate, as they would take a severe toll on the competitiveness of the Valencian citrus sector compared to other Spanish operators, putting it at a disadvantage on the international stage. They also believe that the increase in production costs will negatively affect the already very reduced incomes of the growers, as already stated last Friday by the Valencian Association of Agricultural Producers (AVA-ASAJA), which is one of the main representatives of Valencian citrus producers. The latter claimed that "citrus fruit prices are being set from the top of the value chain; that is, by the large distributors, and not by the operators that market it."
The position of the social representatives has remained inflexible since the negotiations began. At no time has it been considered what the citrus sector's current situation is, or the difficulties that it is going through, with serious structural and short-term problems affecting the value chain. They also seem to have ignored the "historical singularity" of this agreement, as the "pickers" agreement is an exception in the national agricultural landscape. Its content is largely social and is also the only one at autonomic level (with the exception of Murcia, which is a uniprovincial region) that takes the particular nature of Valencian (small-scale) properties into account. By virtue of this, the operator is the one who takes charge of the contracting tasks for the fruits' harvest.
UGT-PV and CCOO-PV insist on demanding an unfeasible annual salary increase (by 8%) for the four years that it will remain in force, as well as relevant changes in the payment of salaries that would increase the overall and business management costs. It is also worth noting that in other producing regions, such as Murcia or Andalusia, the harvesting costs are between 25 and 36% lower than in Valencia.