Migrant farm workers exploited by agro mafias in Italy

Two accidents occurred earlier this week in Italy, killing migrant fram workers. The Italian Prime Minister visited the region, after hundreds of workers took the streets, denouncing exploitation.

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Migrant farm workers in Italy./Ph. DR

Eleven migrant farm workers lost their lives in a traffic accident, Monday, August 6th, in southern Italy, says Agence France-Presse. The van carrying them collided with a tomato truck in the city of Foggia, located in the commune of Apulia, firefighters said.

Last Saturday, the region also witnessed a fatal accident that killed four people and injured four others. It is now home to thousands of African, Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian agricultural workers who came to pick tomatos in the fields despite the hot summer. While most are in a regular situation, very few of them enjoy the working conditions set by the law.

20 to 30 euros per day

These migrants start work at three in the morning. A Moroccan worker comes to pick them up in a van registered in Bulgaria for a workday of 8 to 12 hours, reports the Spanish newspaper ABC. Their salary ranges from 20 to 30 euros per day, while most of them do not earn two euros per hour. This type of agricultural work requires a minimum monthly wage of 874 euros. 

These are the conditions imposed by the «caporalato», an illegal system of recruitment of agricultural labor, which generates 4.8 million euros, 1.8 of it go in tax evasion, according to a report of the rural workers Federation. Between 400 000 and 430 000 migrants in total are working under these conditions in Italy.

Many of them protested in the streets of Foggia to denounce the practices of «agromafias» in the region. Notably, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, visited on Wednesday, 8th of August, the town in question and stated «I'm here to understand what happened. This cannot be considered normal. Behind these deaths, there is exploitation and no dignity. We have to make sure that it does not happen again». He also met with a delegation of foreign agricultural workers and trade unionists.

This case is reminiscent of the misery of the Moroccan loggers in Indre, the Moroccan seasonal strawberry pickers in Huelva and the case of Moroccan workers in Corsica, exploited by farmers.

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