Teenagers rap against the meagre conditions of the Catalan meat sector

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Júlia Bacardit
  • Meat industry workers. Ara
    Meat industry workers. Ara.
  • Workers of the meat industry sector in Catalonia demonstrate
    Workers of the meat industry sector in Catalonia demonstrate.
  • Càrnies en Lluita's performance for workers rights. Càrnies en Lluita
    Càrnies en Lluita's performance for workers rights. Càrnies en Lluita.
  • Meat factory in Catalonia. Diari Jornada
    Meat factory in Catalonia. Diari Jornada.

Workers of the Catalan meat industry sector stand together and get teenagers to rap for their rights.

On 20st of August a piece of news stating that pigs outnumber people in Spain went viral. Indeed, Spain is a country where pork has a big economic and social impact, and Catalonia is no exception to that. 

The meat industry represents more than the 20% of the food sector in Spain and has a 2% impact on the Spanish gross domestic product. In Catalonia, as in Spain, there are more pigs than people, and the industry has been steadily growing in the past years.

The meat sector profits from the migrant wokers’ vulnerability

Most of the workers of the Catalan meat sector are migrants who don’t master the language, and this makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. Under the name of fake cooperatives, the big owners of the meat sector tend to profit from the worker’s rights. Fake cooperatives don’t treat workers as partners: they subcontract other companies instead.

Subcontracts often lead to the loss of basic working rights: salaries are lower and working hours are longer, holidays are considered a privilege and a work leave for illness becomes a good reason to fire someone. Besides, working with the heavy machinery the meat industry requires makes accidents a common thing. And with no work leaves guaranteed, the health of workers is at greater risk. 

In some cases, migrants get their first job in the meat sector, and they are willing to accept anything to avoid deportation: with no legal papers of residence, standing up for one’s right comes at a cost too high to bear.

'Càrnies en Lluites', the voice of the meat sector workers

Le Porc Gourmet is the name of the company that has led to more controversy when it comes to the meat sector and its blind eye to its workers’ rights. The main factory of this company is located in Santa Eugènia de Berga, a small town in the center of Catalonia.

Two years ago, the self-managed trade union Càrnies en lluita, in English ‘Meat industry in struggle’ was created. Since then, the workers of the sector have united to organize strikes and to pay for the expenses.

The past month of June, Càrnies en Lluita organized a night of Catalan rock and rumba concerts to make sure they had enough funding to put up with the cost of the worker’s everyday life in case of strike.

Txarango, Tremendu, PD Ratlles and Resiliència are the names of the music bands that the past 16th of June played in Santa Eugènia de Berga in solidarity with the meat sector workers struggling for better working conditions.

Teenagers rap for decent working conditions in the Catalan meat sector

Resiliència band had an idea: they could further the help by teaching local teenagers how to rap and to put street culture in the service of a social and economic conflict that directly affects their neighbours in the village.

The City Council of Santa Eugènia de Berga decided to collaborate with the initiative, which consisted in 3 workshops during which the teenagers had the chance to get some clues on how to write lyrics and how to mix soundtracks.

The 2nd of August, 15 youngsters aged from 14 to 16 from Santa Eugènia de Berga released the rap video 'Ments Fortes' or 'Strong Minds' where they explain and criticize the exploitation of the meat sector workers in the village. You can hear them and watch them here

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