A not-for-profit organisation called Stronger Together has produced a short film that draws attention to the issue of forced labour in Spain.

The episode was funded by major European supermarkets Lidl, Migros, Ocado and Sainsbury’s, as well as BerryWorld and Driscoll’s-owned Berry Gardens, two of the world’s largest soft fruit suppliers, Asda-owned fresh produce importer IPL, and Innocent Drinks.

Called Two Stories, One Land, it depicts two migrant workers who travelled to Spain from Morocco on the promise of a job. One was able to find safe, secure employment, but the other ended up exploited and maltreated.

According to Stronger Together, 22 per cent of workers in Spain’s fruit and vegetable industry are migrant workers who come from outside the country.

“Unfortunately, not all opportunities advertised are genuine, and for some, the reality is very different to what was promised,” the group says.

In 2019, the Global Slavery Index estimated that around 105,000 people in Spain live under conditions of forced labour. “There is no official national data yet,” Stronger Together notes, “but the government has announced they are working on the development of forced labour specific statistical tools and indicators.”

Last year, the government proposed a new law that would require Spanish multinationals to undertake human rights and environmental due diligence in their supply chains was proposed.

Real stories

Although the characters featured in the film are fictional, their stories are based on real information and reports from the Spanish agriculture sector, and were developed in consultation with real businesses, victim support groups, and human rights organisations.

“Workers can find themselves in the hands of unscrupulous individuals or recruitment agencies and with companies that fail to implement best practices to ensure the dignity of their workers, resulting in exploitative situations,” Stronger Together adds.

The film is part of a Stronger Together Spain programme funded by eight major supermarkets, brands and fruit production companies.

Its aim is to support Spanish agri-businesses to implement responsible labour management practices and to address forced labour risks in their sector and operations.

André Radlinsky, sustainability standards specialist at Migros, comments: “This is an impressive and successful film. It clearly shows what forced labour can mean in the context of Spanish agriculture. Showing a good example and a bad example is very suitable for training purposes.”

Sara Gil Bishop, technical account manager at Berry Gardens, adds: “As sponsors we have the responsibility of raising awareness on human rights issues, and the Stronger Together tools and resources empower our suppliers to prevent and act upon indicators of forced labour.”

According to Montse Valera, Stronger Together Spain programme manager, the film will be part of an interactive training programme to support business with guidance on how to prevent, identify and act against forced labour.

“We are delighted to share this powerful resource, showing two of many realities in the Spanish fields, where although good industry practices are real, we also need to be conscious of the unfair situations still happening all over the country.”