Grape picking in France attracts Spanish workers

Increase in Spanish migrant workers travelling to France to work as grape pickers

This year it is estimated that around 13,500 Spaniards will travel to France to work as grape pickers which is 12.5% more than the 12,000 last year according to the Federación Agroalimentaria de la Unión General de Trabajadores (FTA-UGT).

The increase is largely due to the crisis in the building sector. According to the UGT the profile of Spaniards going to pick grapes in France is changing with respect to former years and now tends to be younger, around 35 years old, and with no previous experience in the sector.

According to FTA-UGT the fall in the number of Spanish workers travelling to France to participate in grape picking stopped in 2006 when the olive harvest in Andalucia was very bad and that from this time onwards the number has gradually increased due to the annual fall in production in the construction industry coupled with the economic crisis. Moreover, it says that Spanish workers who had not worked as grape pickers for many years have returned.

FTA-UGT says that the first seasonal workers travel to France at the end of August and stay for around 20 to 25 days, although some groups of workers travel to France earlier and move around different areas staying in total for around 40 days.

However, FTA-UGT stresses the importance of obtaining a work contract before travelling to France to participate in the grape harvest. It also advises workers to use authorized transport.

The salary of these workers depends on their professional category and experience but should not be lower than the professional minimum salary agreed for this type of work which at 8.82 euros an hour is higher than the minimum wage paid to grape pickers working in Spain. A further perk of working as a grape picker in France is the family benefits system.

Families with two children under 16 years old receive an extra 123.92 euros a month, a family with 3 children 282.70 euros a month and 158.78 euros for every child after the third one.

The French working week is 35 hours and grape pickers receive 25% more if they work 43 hours a week and 50% more if they work more than 43 hours a week.