Jobless Spaniards turn to grape-picking in France

5th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Some 14,000 Spaniards hit by their country's soaring rate of unemployment will cross the French border to take part in the grape-picking season, a Spanish union said Thursday.

The number of Spaniards heading for France's vineyards is up 3.7 percent compared to 2009 -- an increase which the union says has been spurred by Spain's unemployment, which has reached an EU record high of 20.09 percent.

"In an economic and employment situation such as ours, workers from other industries are beginning to come back to this refuge industry," Ana Maria Corral from the Spanish Union of Workers said in a press conference.

Before 2006 an average of 11,000 Spaniards travelled to various parts of France every year to pick grapes for winemaking.

Since the economic slowdown, Spaniards have been attracted by the higher hourly wage for grape-picking in France, which offers 8.86 euros (just over 11 dollars), compared to Spain's 6.10 euros, according to unions.

The grape-pickers will start making their way to France at the end of August and start of September, staying between 20 to 25 days.

© 2010 AFP

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