The Puglia area of Salento is experimenting a new and free system to house seasonal migrant farm workers to protect them from the gang-masters system, said the region's governor, Michele Emiliano.
Eighty housing modules with four beds each, air conditioning, bathrooms, a canteen, infirmary and two officers have been hosting since last year seasonal migrant farm workers in the countryside of Nardò, in Puglia's Salento area - a demonstration for all of Italy that "this model of hosting is already a reality", said Puglia Governor Michele Emiliano, visiting the village.
Emiliano paid the visit with Nardò Mayor Pippi Mellone and the deputy prefect of Lecce, Guido Aprea, to the village near Masseria Boncuri where over the past few years homeless farm workers employed illegally in the area used to camp out.
Dignified and free housing
The village is managed by volunteers from the Civil Protection Department. Seasonal workers mainly employed to pick watermelons and tomatoes in the area find free and "dignified" housing which they can access if they have a contract or if they are jobless and listed in the unemployment register, authorities said.
Governor says the system is innovative
Emiliano said the "innovative" system, organized by the Puglia Region and the municipality in cooperation with the prefecture, is "the first such experience to counter gang-master systems
". "We have set up several villages - added Emiliano - this is obviously the largest so far. Two are already open in the regions of Capitanata, Arena and Casa Sankara, while two others will be built" after obtaining the necessary permits.
The mayor called the camp a new "model" after farm workers were left to live in poor condition for decades. "The new challenge now will be to involve privates in expenses to manage the camp and intensify controls to remove irregular (workers), an easy prey for exploiters".