Huelva Gate : Moroccan farm workers accuse a Spanish trade union of using them

Ten Moroccan farm workers have filed a complaint against SAT, the trade union that has been housing them since they left the farm where they were allegedly sexually abused. The women accuse the union of taking advantage of their situation.

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Ten Moroccan strawberry pickers filed a complaint on September the 29th, accusing Andalusia Work Syndicate (SAT), a trade union movement that has been housing them since May, of taking advantage of their vulnerable situation, reports Europa Press.

These ten women, who fled the farm where they were working in the region of Huelva in order to denounce sexual abuse in the fields, claim that they have been exploited by SAT, which has used according to their lawyers, their struggle to polish its image in the country.

Forced to work to pay for their expenses

The same source, which has a copy of the complaint filed last month, states that the ten women left Malaga where they were staying under the auspices of the trade union after they realized that they have been forced to work illegally.

The complaint accuses in particular José Blanco, a member of SAT, who «made these women work and used the money to cover their expenses, while pretending in front of everyone that the union is taking care of them financially».

In more details, the complaint explains that they had to clean their landlord’s place in order to pay for the rent. One of the Moroccan farm workers have even been working for nine hours a day in the garden of the SAT representative to pay for a cell phone he lent her.

In their complaint, filed with the help of the Association of the Administration of Justice Users (Ausaj), the ten women refer to an event that was organized on July the 25th by SAT. According to the same source, the union hosted a support event in Cadiz to raise money and pay for their expenses. However, they claim that «they have not received anything».

Used for money

Meanwhile, Spanish magazine La Mar de Onuba indicates that the crisis between the ten women and the trade union began when AUSAJ launched a crowdfunding campaign to help the Moroccan nationals' families in the Kingdom.

As reported previously, the campaign obtained its objective and a bank account was opened under the name of one of the women. But in August, a Moroccan national who worked as an interpreter for the women gave them 3000 euros that was transferred to the account of one of them.

The money was destined to their families to help them celebrate Eid al-Adha. However, once the money was sent to the woman’s account José Blanco, according to La Mar de Onuba, «got the authorization to change the account’s code and retrieved 1 380 euros without asking for their permission». No one knows what happened to that money, explained Europa Press.  

Contacted by Yabiladi on Wednesday, Jose Blanco denied all accusations, stating that «SAT took the money to pay for the ten women’s food and expenses».

«I have been used by lawyers, who want to gain some respect by these accusations», he argued, adding that the union «is will defend itself using solid arguments, it is a well-plotted plan against us, they want to destroy us».

The National Court's decision

In the same complaint, the ten women denounced the way in which they were used in front of media by SAT. The same thing was voiced by Unión de Pequeños Agricultores y Ganaderos, known as UPA, a trade union. Speaking to Europa Press, the union stated that the Moroccan women «could have been used and taken advantage of in exchange of promises that were not met».

For the record, Spain’s National Court has refused to take care of the first complaint filed by the ten Moroccan strawberry pickers after they have sought its help in September.

The decision, was studied by Spain’s high court judge Santiago Pedraz, as Ausaj sent a document to the court, denouncing the way local authorities in Huelva treated the sexual abuse cases. The court believes that dealing with the case does not fall under its responsibility.  

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