Seasonal food workers listed as critical labour by European Commission, continued free movement in the EU deemed “essential”

Commission has issued new practical advice to ensure that mobile workers within the EU, in particular those in critical occupations to fight the coronavirus pandemic, can reach their workplace. This includes those working in food sectors.

Salmon farmers and processors across the EU have been given some wriggle room as The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has ensured free movement of critical workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The salmon processing industry is reliant on labour from Eastern Europe. In normal times, workers come countries such as Poland, Romania and Latvia – but if the shutdowns continue, the production and processing of salmon in Norway and Scotland could be severely impacted by current coronavirus travel advice and ban.

Norway is not a member state of the European Union (EU) but is a part of the Schengen Area, which means that it has signed up to the freedom of movement of people.

The guidelines published on Monday identified a range of workers that exercise critical occupations, and for which continued free movement in the EU is deemed essential.

Included on that list is food manufacturing and processing and related trades and maintenance workers as well as food and related products machine operators (includes food production operator).

“The Commission urges Member States to establish specific burden free and fast procedures to ensure a smooth passage for such frontier workers, including proportionate health screening,” The European Commission wrote.

“Beyond these specific categories of workers, the guidelines also clarify that Member States should allow frontier workers in general to continue crossing borders if work in the sector concerned is still allowed in the host Member State. Member States should treat cross border workers and national workers in the same manner.

“As regards seasonal workers, particularly in the agricultural sector, Member States are asked to exchange information on their different needs at technical level and to establish specific procedures to ensure a smooth passage for such workers, in order to respond to labour shortages as a result of the crisis,” it added.


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