A police operation against worker exploitation | Photo: ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA POLIZIA DI RAGUSA
A police operation against worker exploitation | Photo: ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA POLIZIA DI RAGUSA

In Italy, 14 immigrant farm workers found the courage to report the man who was exploiting them to the police. Now, they received stay permits.

The immigrants had been made to work as many as 14 hours per day in the fields, and their savings were stolen.

They had been seeking employment when they were taken on by a Moroccan national who enlisted them to work in the fields that some Venetian families had rented out to him for growing crops. After months of unkept promises and being treated like slaves, the workers rebelled. The man who exploited them is now being sought by the authorities after being placed under investigation for worker exploitation.

Granted stay permits for special cases

The 14 migrants had arrived in Italy from Africa by crossing the Mediterranean Sea on undocumented boats. They have now received stay permits for "special cases" (in this case for worker exploitation) from the Padua police station. That means they can live and work legally in Italy. The migrants are from Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, and Nigeria.

Farmhands paid 1 euro per crate

There have been several reports of undocumented migrants being exploited as farm workers in Italy.

In another case, African immigrants were forced to work as many as 11 hours per day as tomato pickers in Lequile near the city of Lecce in southern Italy. They were paid only one euro for every small crate they filled and only four euros for each big crate. Their employer, an 80-year-old from Porto Cesareo, was reported to the police along with a 37-year-old resident of Andria, who acted as a recruiter and coordinator of the workers.  

The employer is accused of violating work hours for two Ghanian nationals and a Senegalese migrant. Police also found several other violations. The employer allegedly did not take adequate measures to secure worker safety. He did not train his workers properly. Mandatory medical exams were not carried out. Workers did not receive protective gloves, head cover for the sun and suitable shoes.


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