Mushroom Workers Call for Change
The Irish Mushroom Growing industry has been hailed as a major success story in Irish Agriculture. From its beginnings in the late 1970s the industry has become the most important crop grown in Ireland and according to the Department of Agriculture & Food now accounts for nearly 40% of all horticultural production with an output value of Ä110 million. The mushroom industry has become one of the most competitive industries in the Agribusiness sector.
Yet a dark shadow has been cast over this success story.
Exploitation of workers, predominantly migrant workers, has been widely exposed and is now even accepted by the leading players in the industry as a serious problem. Several cases over recent months have highlighted just how bad things can get including: workers being paid at rates of Ä2.50 an hour (less than a third of the minimum rate of pay); workers becoming ill after being exposed to chemicals sprayed on mushrooms; workers labouring in excess of 16-hour days with no overtime provisions; workers expected to be on call around the clock, seven days a week. Violations of labour rights and health and safety protections at the workplace are common and are being uncovered more and more. If it were not for the courage of a few migrant workers who have stepped forward amidst enormous obstacles and risks, it would still be ëbusiness as usual.í
It is now time for serious change. It is time to end the exploitation of workers in the mushroom industry.