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Migrant workers in agriculture, sustainability and justice in Europe and UK


Migrant workers in agriculture, sustainability and justice in Europe and UK

International workshop co-organised by Cornell University and the University of Leeds

Dr Roxana Barbulescu and Dr Johanna Schenner

15th of March 2022

11.00-16.00 GMT , 6.00-10.00 EST



Migrant workers make up a significant part of the food and agriculture sectors in contemporary Europe and the UK. The recent Covid pandemic brought to the fore the contribution of migrant workers as well as shedding new light on their working conditions, access to a limited bundle of rights as temporary migrants and rising inequalities at destination and at origin. Seasonal worker programmes for agriculture are some of the oldest immigration routes in developed countries and they continue to attract almost a million migrant workers in Europe and the UK. Agricultural work is seasonal, low paid with minimal social rights and in remote geographical areas. Furthermore, in the wake of COP26, the environmental crisis and commitments to net zero posit new questions about the sustainability of local food systems to which seasonal migrant workers are recruited annually. Whilst recruiting from the domestic workforce is difficult, even during times of historical low unemployment levels as we observe in the COVID-19 pandemic, seasonal workers have become critically dependent for ensuring locally produce fresh fruit and vegetables.

On the eve of transformational change in agriculture responding to environmental concerns and scaling automation, this international workshop brings together experts and practitioners from Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Romania, the UK and the US for a renewed conversation on the migrant worker programmes for agriculture in contemporary Europe and UK.

Opening 11.00 GMT

Welcome from Dr Roxana Barbulescu (University of Leeds) and Dr Johanna Schenner (Cornell University)

Opening remarks

Professor Louise Waite, Director of Leeds Social Sciences, University of Leeds

Panel One 11.30-13.00

Chair: Prof Carlos Vargas Silva

Dr. Albin Dearing, European Agency for Fundamental Rights

Dr. Charlotta Hedberg Umea University, Sweden

Dr. Natalia Ollus, European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control

Dr Pietro Cingolani University of Bologna and FIERI, Italy

Coffee break

Panel two


Chair: Prof Shannon Marie Gleeson, Department of Labor Relations, Law, & History, Cornell University

Prof Martin Seeileb Kaiser and Dr Cecilia Bruzelius, Tubingen University, Germany

Dr Remus Anghel, University of Babes Bolyai and University of Bucharest, Romania

Dr Frederic Decosse and Charline Sempere , University of Sheffield and Laboratoire d’Économie et de Sociologie du Travail, CNRS, France

Coffee break

 Panel three


Chair Dr Johanna Schnner

Dr Berta Güell, CIDOB Spain

Dr Roxana Barbulescu and Dr Bethany Robertson, University of Leeds, UK

Professor Paweł Kaczmarczyk, Dr Kamila Fialkowska, Dr Kamil Matuszczyk Centre for Migration Research, University of Warsaw Poland

Dr. Vladimir Bogoeski, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Journalist TBC