A demonstration of farm workers demanding more rights in Foggia, Puglia | Photo: ANSA/FRANCO CAUTILLO
A demonstration of farm workers demanding more rights in Foggia, Puglia | Photo: ANSA/FRANCO CAUTILLO

The Puglia region has inaugurated new lodgings in the area of Foggia that will be used to host 400 migrant farm workers with the objective of fighting the gang-master system.

 A guest house for migrant workers has been inaugurated on highway 16 in San Severo, near Foggia, as part of an initiative of the Puglia region to fight the gang-master system. 

Puglia Governor Michele Emiliano said the project represents a ''turning point'' against the exploitation of migrant farm workers. ''These are lodgings for farm workers. We are not interested in where they come from, who they are, what they do. We care about the fact that these people want to work for our agriculture and here they will find, thanks to the Puglia region and the state, a dignified place where they can live and have support in healthcare, as provided for by the laws of the Puglia region."

400 places with services 

The structure offers accommodation to 400 people with a canteen, air conditioning and bathrooms. ''This is the way to give Puglia's agriculture the dignity of a production that is made in a legal way, because in order to be present internationally, to sell our products, we must produce them in a human way'', said the governor. ''Everything that is the outcome of abuse, of bullying, of a mafia that stifles human rights, cannot be sold in a civil country. Without these workers, Puglia's agriculture would not exist." 

Companies should use public funding more, Emiliano 

"The gang-master system is very difficult to defeat," the governor also said. Emiliano then spoke about the importance of transportation for farm workers as a way to fight gang-masters and how the regional government has invested in it. 

"It is clear that funds the Puglia region has allocated to allow companies to transport workers are very important but are still not used very much. There should be much more cooperation with companies, which should trust the state and its laws more." Emiliano also stressed that farm entrepreneurs will benefit from the project: "They are the real objective of these lodgings'', he added.

"At the beginning, it will be hard to give all workers personal protection - it will be complicated and expensive'', he said. ''At the start, it will be hard to apply to the region to have the money for transportation, it will be hard to endure the impact of the Mafiosi'' who act as intermediaries of illegal work, the governor said. 

"But the state is on their side (of entrepreneurs) and, if they respect the rules, they will have all the support and defense of the Puglia region and also, I think, of the interior ministry."

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