After rejecting the new agreement for Extremadura's agriculture, the Association of Fruit Growers of Extremadura (Afruex), has asked to take part in the next negotiations, which should start after the summer, to work from scratch on a new "modern agreement, adapted to the current circumstances," as reported by Miguel Ángel Gómez, manager of the group.
Afruex had already expressed its disagreements with the negotiating table and in fact appealed against its members to the TSJEx, claiming that it ignored those responsible for 80% of the field's workforce. The appeal should have been resolved by now, but was paralyzed by the state of alarm, and Afruex will now also reject the new agreement.
"We have the second most expensive labor costs in all of Spain, only behind Seville, which, with its current agreement, has already lost 80% of its fruit sector. Either we change the model, or we will also lose our fruit sector," said Gomez. According to him, some of the companies are already moving their activities to other regions where the agreements guarantee them lower costs.
The group expressed months ago its wish for the agreement to be discarded and for a new framework to start being negotiated in September; one that would be "more flexible and not stuck in the conditions of 50 years ago," he said.
Miguel Ángel Gómez does however appreciate some of the progress made with the text approved this week, such as the flexibility of the working day. "This is something basic for the field, because there are days when it rains and you cannot work, or there is no work, and others when you have to be there longer." Still, he also criticized that the weight that the stone fruit sector has in the region ends up turning it into a "bargaining chip" when it comes to negotiating, even despite being unable to participate in decision-making.