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Project Empowering Workers

The project called "Empowering Workers for a Better Information, Consultation and Participation in Agriculture Sector" aimed to enhance information, participation and consultation of workers in the agricultural sector. Project gathered trade unions and employers’ organisations from five EU member states and two candidate countries (Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia) and was financially supported by the European Commission.


Project activities included detailed research of participatory procedures in agriculture, exchange of good practices, preparation of different information and educational materials and a number of workshops and roundtables.

Workers' participation includes various forms of information and consultation procedures, emanating from European directives and national legislation and practice, with the aim of including workers in decision making on company level about issues that affect their working conditions, as well as their economic and social interests.

Research carried out in seven participating countries confirmed initial hypotheses that information and consultation procedures are less common and developed in agriculture than in other sectors of economy. This was mostly explained by specific structure and employment patterns in agriculture, as the sector is in most countries dominated by small, family-owned farms, while precarious working conditions, and even undeclared work, are widespread, especially among seasonal and migrant workers. Low unionisation of the sector presents further challenge for wider use of workers’ participation procedures, as they are most often initiated handled by the trade unions as workers’ representatives in the process.

The COVID-19 pandemics has strongly affected agriculture in all countries covered by the research, but its effects on workers’ participation have been mixed. In some countries pandemic had a negative impact on workers’ participation, while in others it has led to more intensive information and consultation exchanges between employers and workers.

While agricultural sector is faced with specific challenges due to climate change, technological development, and the EU’s efforts to develop economically and environmentally sustainable food production, gathered evidence points that potential of workers’ participation to support green transition of agricultural sector is often insufficiently understood and used. As a result, economic, demographic and climate challenges often keep focus of stakeholders away from workers’ participation, while they should actually serve as additional reasons to develop and improve existing information and consultation mechanisms, which can help in addressing those challenges.

At the same time, agricultural workers already directly feel consequences of extreme weather conditions, which further aggravate health risks traditionally associated with the sector. Agriculture records more workplace accidents and illnesses than most of the other sectors, reasons for which include, among other, intense physical effort, use of machinery and chemicals, and exposure to natural elements. High share of so called “brown jobs”, i.e. jobs which concern highly polluting activities and thus require significant structural changes in order to become climate neutral, means that social fairness of green transition envisaged by the European Green Deal will present especially serious challenge for this sector.

However, social fairness of this transition will require including the workers in design and implementation of its policies and measures, including on the level of individual companies. Workers which are informed and consulted on such decisions are more likely to be supportive in their implementation, especially if their concerns for job safety and quality of working conditions are addressed in the process.

The results of research carried out by AGRI-EW project, as well as national and international workshops and discussions, were translated in a number of different informational and educational outputs, including practical manual for enhancing workers’ participation in agriculture, e-learning platform on the same topics, podcast and various other articles and materials on this topic. With not much sector-specific research and material on workers’ participation being available prior to the project, these outputs could and should be used by stakeholders in participating and other European countries in the upcoming years, with the aim of further enhancing the information and consultation procedures in agriculture.

Additional information about the project are available at the following link:

Empowering Workers for a Better Information, Consultation and Participation in Agriculture Sector – federazione-fna-internationalprojects

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only, and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held  responsible for them.


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