SIPTU representatives have written to the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, calling on him to call for the linking of payments to employers in the sector to the provision of proper working conditions for employees during current Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) negotiations. SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, said: “The pandemic presents the EU with the opportunity to rethink the agriculture sector with a more sustainable and socially-just vision where workers’ rights are respected.  “It goes without saying that the CAP, which currently represents 38% of the EU budget, must contribute to this objective. CAP payments must become conditional on employers having respect for applicable working and employment conditions for their employees. It must be ensured that they meet all their obligations under relevant collective agreements as well as EU, national, social and labour law and on International Labour Organisation conventions. “The agriculture sector in the EU is blighted by low wages, high working-time loads as well as many incidences of illegal and precarious working conditions, especially for migrant and seasonal workers. This results in an extremely high incidence of accidents and illness for workers who also have low participation in education and training programmes.  Taken together these paint a bleak picture, with workers in many countries falling prey to widespread exploitation, including gang-master practices and other forms of modern slavery.”   He added: “The negotiations on CAP reform are currently very intense, both in the European Parliament and in the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The European Parliament is expected to adopt its report on the issue later this month. The European Council on Agriculture and Fisheries will meet again on 19th October to finalise its position. We are calling on the Minister to ensure that future CAP payments must take into account working conditions and that this is the clearly stated Irish position in these negotiations.  “Farm subsidies are already conditional on compliance with environmental standards, public health and animal welfare rules. It is past the time that the rights of workers are similarly protected.”