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Article

Italy: Death of union leader avoidable had workers been allowed to protest in a safe environment, media report alleges

"Per chi e per cosa è morto il sindacalista Adil Belakhdim", 30 June 2021

[Unofficial translation from Italian]

...On the morning of June 18, 2021, around twenty workers met in front of Lidl's gates. They intended to block the entrance for half an hour, a little more than symbolic gesture to raise attention to the low wages and heavy working conditions inside the warehouse. The entry and exit gates remained open and some trucks were waiting to be able to exit. Alessio Spaziano, a young driver working for a transport company in Castellammare di Stabia, in Campania, got out of one truck. Spaziano headed towards the protesters. “He was very nervous, he said that he was not a Lidl employee, that he had to go and couldn't wait,” said those present. They told him to wait for the end of the protest, but he [...] returned to the truck, started the engine and left...

...When Spaziano accelerated and then braked - a couple of times to intimidate them and force them to move - Belakhdim intervened, placing himself in front of the truck and telling the others to move [...] the truck suddenly left, Belakhdim fell...

...Admir Hepaj, [a Lidl employee] from Albania, [...] escaped by throwing himself to one side. [He cannot] explain why those who were guarding the gates did not lower the bar to prevent the truck from exiting, a measure that would have avoided the tragedy...

... Adil Belakhdim did not understand why his union's meetings should always take place outside the plant, on this dangerous road a step away from the motorway junction surrounded by logistics depots and only traveled by trucks. Lidl does not provide internal spaces to the union, which is increasingly present among the less represented workers in the jungle of contracts and subcontracts, and so they are forced to meet on the street...

...Belakhdim's colleagues are still thinking about what happened a few days earlier. For them, overcoming the trauma of that morning will be the most difficult task. Admir Hepaj proposes for the next picket to try to ask the company to close bars and gates, so that they can protest safely...

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