Career Advice Job Market Trend Report

Juicy grapes lure Spanish from jobless lines to vines

Published on Tuesday, 20 Aug 2013

TEJINA, Spain: Spain’s Canary Islands have begun an expected bumper wine grape harvest for 2013, luring some workers from the unemployment queues to the vineyard.

Vineyards in the Atlantic archipelago off Africa are the first to be harvested in Spain, and they are forecasting a large, high quality crop with five of the six big names predicting bigger volumes than in 2012.

Together, Canary Island vineyards are reportedly predicting a crop of about six million kilos (13 million pounds), up by a third from last year.

The harvest is luring people with few other prospects in a country with an unemployment rate of more than 26 per cent.

Domingo Martin Cruz, head of Bodegas Marba vineyard in the town of Tejina on the Canary Island of Tenerife, said some locals were taking the place of immigrants in the harvest.

“This year there are already fewer immigrants in the fields. Local people are taking up the habit again for financial reasons more than anything,” he said.

Alejandro Garcia Oliva, 45, from the nearby village of Tacoronte, said he worked for 15 years as a chef in a pastry shop but was made redundant two years ago.

“This is not my thing but at least it is work in the open air,” he said, his hands protected with gloves as he cut grapes from the vines with pruning shears under a hot sun.

“I have plans to open a pastry shop with traditional deserts but for now this is all there is.”

A fellow vineyard worker, 24-year-old Mohammed Laamech, said he arrived from Morocco to the Canary Islands nine years ago on a small boat and was trained in agriculture at the centre for minors where he was placed on arrival.

He had been working the fields since 2005.

“I would like to do something else but for now I am pretty happy here,” he said.

Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, was plunged into a deep recession after a property bubble imploded in 2008, with spending cuts and tax hikes pushing up unemployment further.