To help Moroccan workers a Spanish trade union distributes flyers in an unreadable Arabic script

Flyers distributed by a Spanish trade union to help Moroccan seasonal workers know their rights in the fields featured an indecipherable Arabic script. The initiative launched since January was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Labor.

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A brochure distributed by a Spanish trade union to help Moroccan seasonal workers in Huelva. / Ph. DR

Spanish trade union the Federation of Industry, Construction and Agriculture (FICA-UGT) announced Monday, June 24, that it had distributed thousands of brochures to help Moroccan seasonal workers in Huelva’s strawberry fields know their rights. The flyers featured information related to the strawberry-picking season (January-June), including salaries, working hours and a hotline number for the Moroccan workers.

The initiative, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Labor, Migrations and Social Security and the European Social Fund and written in Spanish and standard Arabic contained a major mistake. In fact, the Arabic parts of the flyers are impossible to read. According to Spanish magazine La Mar de Onuba, which recalls that the initiative was launched by FICA-UGT’s Secretary General Luciano Gomez, reports that the brochures were unreadable.

«The pamphlets, published in a language spoken by these workers, mean nothing. It features a series of Arabic letters put one next to the other without a meaning», the magazine wrote on Monday. «The only thing that we can read and understand is numbers, because just like Spanish, the Arabic language uses the Hindu-Arabic numeral system», La Mar de Onuba added.

A «printing mistake»

The only other information that Moroccan workers can retain from these brochures is the hotline number that can allow them to reach the headquarters of the Spanish trade union in Huelva.

Surprisingly, the flyers that included this major mistake went unnoticed in the fields, where hundreds of Moroccan women work. Commenting on the mistake, a spokesperson for the Spanish Federation of Industry, Construction and Agriculture told La Mar de Onuba that flyers were printed in «illegible» Arabic, thanking the magazine for notifying them.

The union said that the brochure's editing software is «incompatible with the Arabic language». The spokesperson promised to reprint thousands of brochures and correct the mistake, stressing that it was a «printing mistake».

Last year, in the middle of a scandal over cases of alleged sexual assault and the working conditions denounced by Moroccan seasonal workers, unions started to put agreements in place to protect this category of farmers.

This was the case for the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) and the Spanish trade union confederation, which signed an agreement with the Agrarian Youth Association (ASICA - Huelva), which had announced that it would publish detailed information in the languages of the temporary workers. 

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