There is something important in the Italian election political campaign that some critics claim the authorities are refusing to see: tens of thousands of migrant agricultural workers. We focus on Calabria, where they have been coming for years, yet their arrival is still treated as a surprise – an emergency.
A form of slavery, the critics say, is thriving in Italy, with immigrants who work the orange harvest in Calabria. Many of the workers say it is worse each year. There were riots over the conditions three years ago, and today the environment in Rosarno has not changed.
From October to March almost 4,000 migrants still live in abandoned houses or makeshift camps and work ten hours a day. Where global prices have pity for no one, it’s an economic interest that feeds off the workers.
“I go out looking, like on an adventure,” said Tounda. “There’s no guarantee you’ll actually be given any work.”
“And if you find someone?
“Then he takes me for the day.”
“For how much?”
Amnesty International confirms that the widespread exploitation of foreign migrant workers in Italy means they often receive less than 40 per cent of the legal minimum wage. That’s if they are hired – and the work is hard. Saving what they earn is even harder.
Toure said: “You might work for two days, then have nothing for three days. That way you spend everything you’ve earned.”
Orange fraud and corruption developed in Calabria decades ago. Land use, fruit production, processing and exports were all falsified, to benefit from EU subsidies. The authorities investigated criminal organisations and public officials on a massive scale in the last decade.
Today this is a relative backwater of the global economy. Farmers in this area now have to accept a price of 25 cents per kilo of oranges or 8 cents for a litre of juice – from a very few big buyers, including Coca Cola. Without the migrant workers, the fruit is left to rot.
A sociologist at the University of Messina, Fabio Mostaccio, said: “Farmers have to accept the prices established by the industry, that does not want to pay more. And that is why we get the exploitation of foreign workers. Labourers were exploited 50 years ago, and it is still happening today. Once they were locals, now they are foreigners.”
This very low-cost labour is like oxygen for the local economy. But there is no policy to take care of the workers when the arrive. The system has mostly been just to look the other way. The government did build a camp in February last year, and that was rapidly doubled in size by do-it-themselves workers. More than 700 were living under plastic sheeting until, in December, after a rainstorm, the mayor felt he had to act.
San Ferdinando Mayor Domenico Madafferi said: “I called for help immediately. I wrote to the prefect, to the regional president of Calabria, to other institutions. Nobody answered. So I had no choice. I had to order the camp closed.”
Despite the urgent humanitarian need, two months went by before enough resources had been gathered for a new camp.
The Prefect of Reggio Calabria, Vittorio Piscitelli, said: “We were determined not to have the same thing happen this winter, with tents unfit for the weather, so with additional effort we decided to use tents normally reserved for after a natural catastrophe.”
Two weeks after that interview the new camp was still empty. The transfer has begun, but the authorities said they were short of money and so decided to charge each resident 30 euros per month.
Arturo Lavorato, who is with the NGO AfriCalabria, said: “They don’t take action for the long term. The only way they have is in creating Solidarity Village, a huge and expensive centre, far from the towns, that will be soon a ghetto. It cost a fortune. With the same money, you could restore some houses in this area.”
Until next June, when the camps are supposed to be taken down, African workers in Rosarno have to take care of themselves. The only service is provided by the non-governmental organisation called Emergency. It has a health care bus on site. The NGO, which also operates in Afghanistan and Iraq, says it’s clear that Rosarno is one of many places in Europe populated by institutionally invisible workers, who Europe pretends not to see.
Roberto, a worker with ‘Emergency’, said: “There is a sort of army working the marginal jobs in agriculture. Before Rosarno we were in Foggia and in Sicily, following the seasonal harvests, like for tomatoes in Campania. When that’s over, we come to Calabria.”
Invisible workers don’t vote.
- 1Syria ceasefire more likely to fail than succeed, says Russian FM
- 2Oh là là – does French ruling mean more nude pictures on Facebook?
- 3Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders end 1000-year standoff
- 4Assad comes out fighting and says will take back “whole country” in interview
- 5Threat of deportation of baby girl to offshore migrant centre sparks Brisbane protest
- 1Albert Einstein and the incredible discovery of gravitational waves
- 2Einstein was right! Scientists confirm that gravitational waves exist
- 3Turkey threatens to unleash refugees on Europe
- 4Major powers agree on truce in Syria “within a week”
- 5Oh là là – does French ruling mean more nude pictures on Facebook?
- 1Japanese volcano erupts on nuclear power station island
- 2‘Human error responsible’ for deadly Bad Aibling train crash – sources
- 3Leopard enters Indian school, mauls six people
- 4One of world’s biggest container ships stranded on German river
- 5Einstein was right! Scientists confirm that gravitational waves exist
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2International news | euronews, latest international news
- 3Madrid to appeal Catalan road to independence from Spain
- 4Partnering to grow Europe
- 5Hope vs harsh reality: challenges to global education goals in the 21st century
- 6Extras : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 7Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze
- 8Jorge Lorenzo clinches his third MotoGP title in Valencia
- 9latest Learning World - All Programmes | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 10Macedonian Postcards: The Mavrovo National Park
- 11Moldova: protesters storm Parliament
- 12International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 13Merroussis clinches the 33rd Athens Authentic Marathon
- 14Humans consume more than planet can produce on ‘Earth Overshoot Day’
- 15Benzema questioned in French sex tape case
- 16Norway sends Syrian refugees back to Russia
- 17Paris: “I would rather see my brother in prison than in a cemetery”
- 18Special Reports : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 19Evo Morales celebrates his birthday by playing football
- 20Business news and finance news | euronews: international economic and finance news
Latest world news
Syria ceasefire more likely to fail than succeed, says Russian FM
Threat of deportation of baby girl to offshore migrant centre sparks Brisbane protest
Greek farmers camp outside parliament to protest tax reforms
Taiwan quake: rescue efforts over at site of toppled apartment block
Syria seizes village overlooking key rebel areas near Aleppo
Wires > News
- 03:16 CET New Zealand’s Christchurch rocked by 5.7 magnitude quake
- 02:07 CET Turkey strikes Kurdish militia in Syria, demands it withdraw
- 02:04 CET Ethnic rebels’ show of force highlights Suu Kyi’s peace challenge
- 01:55 CET U.S. Justice Scalia, conservative icon, dead at 79
- 01:10 CET Central Africans head to polls to vote for peace
- 23:50 CET Chad appoints new prime minister two months before election
- 23:08 CET A polarizing force, Haiti’s former soldiers return to streets
- 23:03 CET Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni defends record in presidential debate