Slave labor case rocks Buenos Aires blueberry operation -

Slave labor case rocks Buenos Aires blueberry operation

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Slave labor case rocks Buenos Aires blueberry operation

Argentine police have detained five men following a slave labor bust on a blueberry farm in the Buenos Aires province, website reported.

The story reported 95 workers, including 11 minors, were discovered in inhumane conditions in the investigation of a San Andrés de Giles property and nearby blueberry exporter Baldones SA.

Investigators said the company that owns the property "deceived workers and coerced them with armed personnel".

"They were found in inhumane conditions in an overcrowded shed, being all natives of the Misiones province," the report said.

Baldones SA itself is involved with stakeholder community interrupcion* Fair Trade, and according to the group's website received a 'fair trade premium' of ARS27,164 (US$6,349) for its products in 2009.

The story reported some of the detainees were armed at the time of arrest, while in the area police found three pistols, two shotguns, two rifles, two carbines and ammunition for the weapons.

The Argentine blueberry industry itself is expecting a 13% rise in exports this year, but the Buenos Aires province only accounts for around 3% of shipments.

Informal labor in Argentina's cherry sector

The news comes amid reports of a crackdown on informal labor in Argentina's cherry industry from the Federal Public Revenue Administration (AFIP).

Website reported the AFIP investigation found the growing areas of Roca and Plottier had close to a 100% rate of 'black labor'.

The general survey also looked into the areas of Vista Alegre, San Patricio del Chañar, Centenario and Cinco Saltos, finding that 80% of workers were officially registered with the government.

Overall this represents a slight reduction in the percentage of informal labor overall in the region.

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