The tens of thousands of migrant workers working in the province are vital to the Spanish economy and pan-European food supply chains. Throughout the pandemic, they have held essential worker status, labouring in the fields while millions across the world sheltered inside.
Here, in the middle of Spain’s Mar del Plastico (Plastic Sea), the 31,000 hectares (76,600 acres) of farms and greenhouses in the region of Andalucía known as “Europe’s garden”, many of El Barranquete’s inhabitants don’t have electricity, running water or sanitation.
In August, the Observer interviewed more than 45 migrants employed as farm workers in Almería. A joint supply chain investigation by Ethical Consumer magazine has linked many of these workers to the supply chains of UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi.
In response to the investigation, the British Retail Consortium – members of which include Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi – released a statement calling on the Spanish government to launch an inquiry.
Commenting on the Observer’s findings, Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty, says the situation facing migrant workers in southern Spain is a human tragedy.