France: Foreign seasonal workers stuck at borders

The strengthening of sanitary measures has complicated the visa application procedures for non-European workers. A difficulty to which producers must adapt in their search of labor.

With the lockdowns and the closure of shops, the year 2020 was very problematic for producers, not to mention the near closure of borders complicating the arrival of foreign seasonal workers.

Seasonal workers represent 40,000 to 50,000 employees in April, and up to 100,000 from the month of May. The local labor is not sufficient, so producers rely on workers from abroad, especially from North Africa. A workforce which is essential for farmers but has a cost since they have to pay for plane tickets and application fees (from 400 to 500€ per employee).

This year however, the applications filed with the Regional Directorate of Business, Competition, Consumption, Labor and Employment (Direccte) for the hire of seasonal workers have not yet been successful.

The producers in the Vaucluse department have managed to find an agreement with the prefecture of the Bouches-du-Rhône to obtain an exemption for Moroccan and Tunisian workers. “The procedure is long, there is a delay of about a month at the prefecture. Once the file is validated, we charter a plane for a flight to Marseille, then a bus to Avignon. We have brought in 800 seasonal workers this way since December,” explains Sophie Vache, president of FDSEA of Vaucluse.

Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP

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