Fair wages demanded – Italy: Field workers complain of exploitation

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Fair wages demanded – Italy: Field workers complain of exploitation

140 foreign illegal workers who were exploited for years in the fields of the central Italian province of Viterbo, north of Rome, have filed a class action lawsuit against their employer. They complain that they had to work thirteen hours a day, six days a week. They received three to seven euros per hour.

The lawsuit will be heard on Wednesday in a court in Viterbo, the Roman daily La Repubblica reported on Monday. The workers, who mainly come from Pakistan and Senegal, demanded compensation from their employee, who had intimidated and threatened them for years. Many illegal workers did not have a residence permit in Italy.

Public debate on workers’ rights
The issue of workers’ rights in Italy’s fields is at the center of public debate after an employer left an Indian harvest worker unaided last week after an industrial accident that severed his arm. The farm worker died from his serious injuries.

According to the Italian agricultural workers’ union, the worker became stuck in a machine while making hay. He lost an arm and suffered several broken bones. Instead of providing first aid and calling an ambulance, the company dumped the injured man “like a bag of garbage near his house.”

Billion dollar business thanks to undeclared work
Italian unions complain that undeclared agricultural work generates a billion-dollar business. Harvest helpers are paid three euros per hour. The phenomenon of ‘caporalato’, as the exploitation of illegal workers in the fields in Italy is called, is particularly widespread in the southern Italian regions. Recently, penalties for exploiting illegal workers in the fields have been increased to up to six years in prison. But the controls are inadequate, the unions criticize.

Source: Krone

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