A CITRUS fruit farmer in Picassent (Valencia) is being investigated by the Guardia Civil after he was found to be employing 26 workers without contracts and forcing them to sleep in an abandoned farmhouse.

The exploited employees were all from Algeria and were reportedly made to work extremely long hours in the sun, had no official documents or rights, and slept on the floor in an old building with no electricity, running water or hygiene.

An investigation was launched back in January, when a Guardia Civil patrol was called out to the central offices of the agricultural company in Picassent.

Upon arriving, a 22-year-old worker informed the officers that he had been given a cheque for €2,700 to share among another six employees.

Orange Trees
Photo by Pixabay

However, the cheque had bounced as there were no funds in the account, and he and his colleagues were found to be working without contracts or Social Security.

Further enquiries revealed that the business owner had promised the employees work and lodgings during the fruit-picking campaign, which encouraged them to travel over to Spain from Algeria.

However, upon arriving the workers discovered that the digs were nothing more than an abandoned building in the middle of the orange groves in the nearby town of Tavernes Blanques, with no basic facilities and in conditions described by the authorities as ‘completely precarious and unsanitary’.

The businessman is facing charges of crimes against the rights of workers.

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