Centre of Migration Research

Kamila Fiałkowska, Kamil Matuszczyk, Monika Szulecka. 2022.

Agricultural exceptionalism, migrant farmworkers and the pandemic – evidence from Poland as a new immigrant destination country

 

Estudios Geográficos, 83 (293), e110

https://doi.org/10.3989/estgeogr.2022116.116


Abstract

his paper, based on ethnographic fieldwork the authors conducted among seasonal migrant farmworkers in Poland, discusses the impact of the COVID-19 fast track solutions adopted in the sector on the general situation of migrant farmworkers in agriculture. Based on the evidence from the field as well as policy analysis conducted in recent months, we argue that the fast track solutions and exemptions adopted in Poland (as in many of the EU member states) during the pandemic of 2020-2021 are not unique, but manifest the long-standing policy of agricultural exceptionalism. This has practical implications on the health and safety of migrant farmworkers and, paradoxically, may translate into a worsening of their working and living conditions on the farms. Against this backdrop we want to shed light on the predicaments of farmworkers during the pandemic, to better understand their position, which results from intersecting factors increasing the vulnerabilities of farmworkers (temporalities, isolation, low unionisation, intensification of work). To better understand the impact of the special solutions on the phenomenon of seasonal work, it is necessary to take into account the perspective of the employers. Together, these observations allow us to paint a more comprehensive picture of the situation of farmworkers during the pandemic in Poland – a new immigrant destination country.
 

Keywords

Poland, seasonal migration, migration from Ukraine, COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture, migration governance

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