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Labour exploitation in the (Italian) agri-food sector

Author: Dr. Paola Cavanna, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Published on: 27 July 2017

The European Union promotes sustainable development, free and fair trade and intends to protect human rights. Yet, evidence of people treated as ‘disposable commodities’ abounds across Europe, in particular in the agri-food sector: see the case of Thai berry pickers unpaid for most of their seasonal work in SwedenBangladeshi workers trafficked to Greece and forced to work at the main strawberry farm in Manoladaundocumented migrants exploited in the Dutch mushroom industry.

Several research projects have denounced the exploitative working conditions to which migrants are subjected all over Italy: irregular employment, sub-minimum wages (ranging from 25 to 30 euro per day), excessively long working hours (typically from 6 am to 10 pm) not compensated by overtime pay, lack of workplace health and safety, occupational diseases and no access to basic medical aid, shameful living and hygiene conditions...

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