Classed as essential workers due to the pandemic, agricultural and food workers, many of them migrant workers, have continued to work – or risk losing their jobs – on farms and plantations, and in meat and food processing plants to provide essential food supplies to people worldwide.
They and their families have paid, and continue to pay, a high price in prviding essential food supplies to consumers. Tens of thousands of workers in meat and food processing plants, and on farms and plantations around the world have been infected with coronavirus. Many have died.
Yet agricultural and food workers who work to feed the world everyday do not earn enough to properly feed themselves and their families and endure chronic food insecurity.
On World Food Day, October 16, 2020, the IUF is calling for a trade union and human rights based approach for agricultural and food workers to be the basis of global food security policies. These policies must recognize them as essential/critical workers for global food security and resilient food supply chains. Agricultural and food workers, including migrant workers, must have the same labour and human rights as workers in industry/commerce
“The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed that agricultural and food workers are essential but we are still treated as expendable. The pandemic must be a turning point – we must not return to the bad working and living conditions and precarious employment, as before the pandemic,” urged Anja Westberg, President of the IUF AWTG Board.
These sentiments were echoed by Michael Fakhri, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food who commented, “We should always be prioritising the livelihood and well-being of agricultural and food workers, as they are essential”.