‘Caporalato’, is a widespread practise in Italy, particularly in southern regions. It is a system of labour exploitation in the agricultural sector managed by gang masters – very often connected to mafia clans – who employ farm workers without any contractual protection, in conditions raging from highly exploitative to slave-like, with indecent housing to boot. Because of their precarious status and desperate need to make an income, irregular migrants are among the favourite victims of these unscrupulous exploiters. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people are being exploited in this way in the agricultural sector in Italy – including not only third country migrants but also local workers and south-eastern European citizens – in a ‘black economy’ worth around EUR 5 billion a year (data CGIL FLAI).
After many years of campaigning and civic initiatives run by trade unions, migrant workers’ associations and civil society – with SOLIDAR members CGIL, ARCI and AUSER playing a leading role – in October 2016 the Italian Parliament finally approved a law imposing tougher sanctions on the exploiters and ensuring higher protection for the victims.
Not only have SOLIDAR members always been active in raising awareness of this phenomenon, denouncing cases of exploitation and promoting the approval of a national law to eradicate the problem, but they are also active in programmes and activities to support migrant workers, provide healthcare and social services to people regardless of their status, cultural mediation and legal counselling.
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