The Marseilles court, called upon to rule on civil interests, ordered this Spanish company to pay 80,394,029 million euros to Urssaf in “compensation for the financial damage” caused by the non-payment of contributions and social security contributions. to this organization responsible for collecting them from French companies.
“It is a very satisfying and at the same time frustrating decision because agricultural workers who do not dare to act for fear of reprisals have no direct redress. But it is an important symbolic victory thanks to which the voice of the workers was heard”, reacted Me Vincent Schneegans, lawyer for the CFDT union, civil party.
For four years, from 2012 to 2015, Terra Fecundis sent more than 26,000 workers, originally from South America, mostly Ecuador, to French farms, in the Gard, the Bouches-du-Rhône or the Drome.
“This is the largest case of Social Security fraud ever judged in France”, underlined the lawyer for the Urssaf Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Me Jean-Victor Borel, during the trial in court. correctional in May 2021.
Convicted of social dumping, the company officially based in Murcia (southern Spain) was sentenced on July 8, 2021 by the Marseille court to a fine of 500,000 euros. A four-year suspended prison sentence and a 100,000 euro fine were also imposed on the three Spanish leaders.
The company had been found guilty of misusing the European secondment procedure which allows companies to send staff to work abroad, but only for missions limited in time.
However, Terra Fecundis paid these posted workers at the French minimum wage, but paid its social charges in Spain where they are up to 40% lower, making this vulnerable labor cheaper for French farmers.
The trial had highlighted the harassing working conditions of these precarious workers who were reluctant to defend themselves. “It’s Germinal in the farms with Terra Fecundis, the Human Beast has become a temporary work company”, had rebuked the prosecution, evoking Emile Zola’s novels on the workers of the 19th century.