Lack of foreign seasonal workers causes concern that the French wine industry will run out of manpower

Wednesday May 06 2020 by Vitisphere

A combination of early vine growth and the coronavirus epidemic has made the need for seasonal workers for the 2020 harvest urgentA combination of early vine growth and the coronavirus epidemic has made the need for seasonal workers for the 2020 harvest urgent

Vines are growing as fast as fears of not having enough manpower to keep them under control. “Some ministries are hell-bent on the idea that local labour will suffice, with people that have been furloughed, students, restaurant and hotel employees... But being a waiter is nothing like tying vine shoots to trellis wires! It seems difficult for us to harness this workforce. This is going to cause problems”, said a member of a Cognac producers’ organisation. Despite calls from the national industry organisation AGPV, France has been slow to introduce a plan to allow seasonal workers from other European countries to enter the country. While Germany has introduced group entries of seasonal workers, some wine regions are speaking out and voicing concern about the discrepancy between advanced vineyard development and the delay in opening the borders to seasonal workers.

Mobility of foreign labour

In a letter sent on 24 April to the authorities, the Champagne marketing board questioned the government “on the issue of labour mobility from other countries” since “the various platforms set up to enable employers to find labour more easily at local and national levels will not be enough” and “despite all the efforts made to recruit staff (by partnering with organisations such as the Job Agency and county councils...), winegrowers are resorting to labour from other countries due to a lack of local labour”. The same viewpoint was expressed in a letter also sent on 24 April in which the Cognac marketing board stressed that “although we have approached local employment structures, as we do every year, to help us recruit as many seasonal workers as possible in our area, and even though we are currently considering a specific job exchange in the current situation, you are aware that this recurring problem also requires us to resort to a large number of foreign workers to help us”.

 

 

 

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