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Spain: Workers of the San Nicolas estate begin planting without a landlord

Workers who have been occupying Simon Sage's farms in San Nicolas (El Ejido) since early May, have created an association and have begun to plant one hectare greenhouse in order to be self sufficient.

The workers, members of the Field Workers Union (SOC), have asked, via the association and the union, both the bankruptcy administration and the Commercial Court, the legal transfer of the greenhouses to their Union so that they can exploit it for the years that the settlement process takes. Additionally they have requested that if any company were to lease the farms, or part of these, during this process, said company would be forced to hire laid-off workers with all their legal benefits.
In the beginnings of May 201, more than a hundred workers started the occupation of agricultural entrepreneur Simon Sage's farms, some 30 hectares of greenhouses in full production. 130 employees of Moroccan descent carried out the occupation after their employer who, unbeknownst to them, had been subject to a bankruptcy proceeding for the last year, fled.

Thus, dozens of families were left without any sustenance, being owed several years salary and a severance pay amounting to nearly two million Euro. Given this situation, as they understand it, is of labour and social helplessness, the workers have chosen not to accept being laid off and have kept most of the land under their control.

Throughout this time, the Union has submitted the corresponding labour lawsuits and has denounced numerous irregularities which, in their view, have occurred during the past year, such as the lack of notice of the initiation of the bankruptcy process to the workers, the pressure they were subjected so they would sign the payroll and irregular settlements as well as the filing of a fictitious company of the entrepreneur's son-in-law to which all of the workers contracts were transferred months before they were dismissed.

Currently 16 acres that are still in the bankruptcy process continue to be occupied and, starting August, the workers have begun cleaning and preparing a first hectare so they can plant vegetables. The idea is to provide food for the families and the members and partners of the association created under the name of Almeria's Labourers Without a Boss, which manages the maintenance of the occupied lands.


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