On 28 February 2013, the Workers' Group organised an extraordinary meeting in Brussels. The morning session was devoted to internal matters. During the afternoon, there was a discussion on the theme "Employment and economic performance of the agri-food sector in the countries of the European Union".
The European agri-food industry employs 48 million workers in 17 million companies. Even though it contributes significantly to the European economy, its potential as regards the creation of jobs, economic diversification and social inclusion is still widely underestimated.
In order to examine more closely how the agri-food industry can contribute to reaching the goals of employment, social inclusion and sustainable economy and how European policy can help develop its potential, the Workers' Group discussed several issues that are specific to this sector such as seasonal jobs, the employment of migrant workers, undeclared work, the low generational renewal rate, health and security, etc.
Extending the debate to the entire Group was a good way to gather the views and suggestions of all participants on this issue. The members reached the conclusion that the potential of the agri-food sector should be more broadly addressed at European level. Thus, they supported Franco Chiriaco's proposal to draft an own-initiative proposal in order to examine, among other issues, the following aspects:
- working conditions in the sector;
- food safety;
- the consumer's interest to find quality products and the role of traceability and labelling;
- the role of the sector in free trade agreements;
- the unequal distribution of profit between producers and distributors;
- the balance between mass production and keeping local traditions;
- the role of vocational training and new technologies in the promotion of employment in the sector;
- occupational integration possibilities for women and young people.