These are workers who go where the work calls them. Some of them go only for one season and return to their country, others travel from city to city or country to country looking for more work, almost all of them do this for a better economic stability for them and to help their family. My intention with the project "Working far away" is to document the circumstances of seasonal workers in different countries and not only their arduous work but also how they live during the working season. I want to show the things they must go through to obtain this type of job and to understand the necessity this people have to leave their country in order to obtain a better life for them and for the family waiting in their home country.
Asparagus season, Germany.
Every year approximately 270 000 workers come to Germany to reap the harvest, they are all foreigners, most of them from Poland and Romania - without these people, it would be impossible to reap because most of unemployed German people who are looking for a job are not willing to do it.
They work every day, 10 hours a day starting at 5 o'clock in the morning. This year (2013), they get 27-57 cents for each kilo harvested and that depends on the size of the asparagus. They toil in sun, rain and cold.
One of them said: "We come to work, we want to make money and that‘s why we do not care about the weather or free days. In the last season I earned 4,000 Euros and that‘s why I‘m here again this year. In our country, this currency is more valuable than ours"
This is a look into the lives of a group of harvesters in one of the many farms in Germany that bring foreigners for their annual reap. It shows us not only how they work in different situations and under the toughest conditions but also their leisure time, their life together and the lifestyle these people have during their work in Germany.
At Home, Romania 2014
The Family of these seasonal workers has to wait for them in their respective countries, few families travel together searching for these type of job. In most cases somebody remains taking care of the house, children and even, if they have a farm, of the animals.
This photo series is focused on the family members of the workers who remain in their countries; on some workers who have stayed in home this season and some details of their life when they are not working in some other place.
Different cities, towns, ways of life and histories but all of them have something in common; they work in another country where they receive a better wage then return home with their families after the season is over. Many of them have this work and survive with this only income all year until the next season starts. Some others have a job back home but very badly paid so this tend to be the reason why these people have to leave home looking for better payment for a better life for them and their families.
Migrant seasonal workers in the Spanish financial crisis.
Ibraham from Western Sahara says; "Where were the Spaniards 10 years ago when we, the immigrants, alone made the harvesting of the olives” Here in Jaén he didn´t obtain a job. He sleeps today in the shelter that the city offers to these workers, tomorrow in the early hours of the morning he´s going to take the bus to another city in Spain looking for work. For more than 20 years, he has been traveling and working throughout Spain as a seasonal worker.
Years ago, immigrants worked in the olive harvesting because most of Spanish people did not want to make this arduous work. Now, since the crisis in Spain, people have begun to lose their jobs and the only option they have left is to work in the fields, leaving no vacancies for the immigrants. Jaén, Andalusian city in Spain, is one of the stops for these seasonal immigrants who cross the country working in the different agricultural seasons.
"I‘m aware that we‘ve taken jobs form the hands of many of these immigrants“ says Angel, a Spanish citizen who used to have a very good position in a construction company and was forced to work in the in olive harvesting after the crisis.
Dembei, a young Senegalese who lives in an improvised campsite in a park, has worked for the following 20 days in a town near Jaén. He has been living and working as seasonal worker in Spain for over 8 years. After this harvest, almost everybody will go to Huelva where the strawberry season will begin.
This is the destiny of many immigrants when they arrive to Europe. After a long and dangerous journey to arrive to Spain they must find a way to make a living here and send money to their family in their home country.
La Rapa, Galicia, Spain 2015
The Polish shearers working in Galicia have to cross more than 20.000 kilometers during the three months of the shearing season (April to June) ; in their vehicle they travel from town to town towards the farms of those who ask for their services.
“I’ve been coming to work for the shearing season for 25 years. Spaniards are not willing to perform this job, it is exhausting, and that‘s why I have a sure thing here.“- said the team leader. It takes one minute per sheep to shear, when the skin is dirty or has some disease it takes a little more than two minutes earning 3 Euros each. In a good day working with a big flock, they shear up to 500; with smaller flocks around 200 per day. Altogether, there are 30,000 sheep to be sheared in Galicia.
"It hurts to have our family far away those 3 months, but now with the internet and cell phones it became easier to be in contact. 20 years ago, we could only make one phone call every two weeks from a public phone. The sheared season in Galicia is one of our main sources of income to live in Poland. In our country we can only get occasional - type of work, there is no permanent or well paid job back in Poland.“ Said one of the workers. This is a 3-member team, two of them shear and the third catches the sheep and take them to the shearing spot. This is a family business, the team leader learned it from his uncle 25 years ago when he was the one catching the sheep. “The three of us are a family, we work, eat and enjoy together as a family would, and we share the place we live in.“
Competition is increasing; more and more people from Poland want to participate in the shearing, but the team has their routs and their clients know and receive them. The team consider of great importance to do an excellent job so they can come back the next season, even more, they need to keep in contact with their clients.