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Article

31 Aug 2020

Author:
Rebecca Ann Hughes, Euro News

Italy: Documentary shows exploitative conditions faced by migrant fruit pickers; activists say low supermarket prices contribute to wage squeezes

"Italy's invisibles: migrant fruit pickers robbed of all rights", 31 Aug 2020

As undocumented migrants working in the agricultural sector suddenly became labelled as "essential" during the pandemic, [migrant rights activist] Soumahoro shone the spotlight on the exploitative conditions under which they work...

In May, the Italian government recognised migrant farmworkers by offering applications for six-month temporary working permits. However, the policy was criticised by NGOs for being an economic strategy to protect the agricultural sector rather than a move motivated by human rights...

The plight of these migrants was captured in the documentary The Invisibles...

Despite their sudden reclassification as "essential", migrant workers have been exploited for years in a system of illegal employment called "caporalato" in Italian. The documentary described it as "modern slavery"...

Under this system, the migrants can work 14 or 15-hour days for as little as three or four euros an hour. Without contracts, they have no access to healthcare or resident rights. In their camps, they rarely have potable water and people live packed together...

The real enemies, he says, are "large retail chains, which from the top forces low prices on tomatoes and citrus fruit on farmers who, in turn, squeeze the workers."

"It's the big corporations that hold the power in the food chain," he told the film-makers.

The migrants [...] want their vital role in the food chain to be recognised legally and socially...

Part of the following stories

Workers in agricultural supply chains among groups most at risk of COVID-19 infection

Italy: Fears grow for migrant farmworkers left without work & living in poor conditions amid COVID-19 crisis