Farmworker protests in Peru hit agro-export sector
Peru's agro-export sector is being impacted by a large mobilization by agricultural workers in the southern region of Ica over labor rights.
Hundreds of protestors on Tuesday blocked the key Pan-American highway for the second day in a row, demanding higher pay, better working conditions and the repeal of the Agrarian Promotion Law.
The Agrarian Promotion Law had led to cuts in labor rights and tax benefits for agricultural export activity.
The Ica representative of the Office of Public Defender, Jorge Hernández, told the local press that social unrest was aggravated by a regulation that authorizes the hiring of personnel for the agricultural industry through intermediary companies.
Protesters said that they were receiving salaries below what was established in the law due to illegal practices by the intermediary companies.
The mobilizations have included days of strikes, mobilizations, road blockades and, in some cases, the vandalization of companies such as Agrokasa, Beta and Miranda.
There have been widespread protests in Peru over recent weeks sparked after the removal of President Martín Vizcarra, beginning on Nov. 9 2020.
Alejandro Fuentes, president of the Association of Agricultural Producers' Guilds of Peru (AGAP) told FreshFruitPortal.com the problem arose in part because some companies do not comply with the Agrarian Promotion Law.
He said AGAP has requested greater audits by the corresponding government entities.
In addition, Fuentes said the problem does not lie in the Agrarian Promotion Law itself, as indicated by some of the sectors adhering to the protest, but in the lack of regulation of certain companies.
He added that AGAP associates remain firm in their commitment to continue promoting the generation of formal employment in agriculture and firmly condemn any malpractice that threatens workers' employment benefits.
On Tuesday morning, the Peruvian Government reported that a high-level delegation would arrive in Ica to establish dialogue and listen to the demands.
The delegation will be made up of senior officials from the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Minagri), and the Ministry of Labor, Promotion and Employment (MTPE).
As of Tuesday afternoon there was no information as to whether an agreement had been reached.
It is unclear exactly how severely Peruvian agricultural exports have been impacted. Key fruits the country is currently exporting include blueberries and table grapes.
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