Press "Enter" to skip to content

Migrants exploited harvesting grapes while France’s Champagne region, court hears

Six individuals and three firms have gone on trial in France, accused of exploiting migrants to harvest grapes for important winemakers from the Champagne area in 2018.

There are close to 200 sufferers, largely migrants that were supposedly promised decent terms however assert they ended up functioning in slave-like ailments.

“They have been guaranteed that a job with a salary of $10 per hour, which is not poor,” said Mehdi Bouzaida, an attorney for France’s Committee Against Modern Slavery (CCEM).

“They have been guaranteed a job interval of 20 to 30 days, which is not bad either. They had been guaranteed lodging, an area for three or two, therefore nothing to worry about, but of course, when they got there, it wasn’t like this whatsoever,”

The fees consist of illegal labor and human trafficking.

The employees explained thirst, challenging days of labor, sometimes without cover, and with no contract. A number of these were undocumented migrants recruited in reception centers.

A subcontractor hired the employees and provided their solutions to several of France’s biggest champagne makers. All these have denied any knowledge of those procedures and have faced no fees.

Almost 80 employees were supposedly housed in a single derelict resort in the village of Oiry, in states investigators state are disgraceful, together with a few rooms shared by over 10 employees.

From the courthouse in Reims, a 26-year-old Afghan asylum seeker explained his predicament over five times of grape picking.

He said employees would get up at 5 am, depart for work at 5.30 am and finish at about 10.30 pm. He said he was given a contract and had to pay $25 per day for meals and lodging when he made less than 90 euros for over 15 hours of everyday work.

“There was only 1 shower, without hot water, for 36 individuals. We slept on the ground since there was no mattress,” he explained.

The supervisors of this subcontracting service face up to 3 years in prison.