Italy: Fears grow for migrant farmworkers left without work & living in poor conditions amid COVID-19 crisis
COVID-19 exposed Italy’s reliance on its migrant work force. Undocumented agricultural workers often endure exploitation, mistreatment and poor living conditions. They risk their health, and, in some cases their lives, to go to work.
Yet, they are essential for the country's economy, especially as demand for produce has increased during the pandemic. NGOs and activists have raised concerns about the deteriorating conditions of workers, and have called on the government to do more to address the situation.
In May 2020, the government, fearing a collapse of its agricultural sector, issued a visa scheme to allow undocumented migrants to apply for a six-month work permit allowing them to legally stay in the country. However, issues remain as migrant workers in Italy's agricultural sector are increasingly vulnerable to the virus, abuse and exploitation.