Police involved in an operation against illegal labor | Photo: ANSA/Polizia
Police involved in an operation against illegal labor | Photo: ANSA/Polizia

The Italian authorities have arrested three people involved in the exploitation of migrants. The migrants had been working as underpaid shepherds in conditions harmful to their health in the southern region of Puglia.

The Italian authorities are uncovering more and more cases of migrant exploitation. In the latest case, they found a group of migrants being exploited as underpaid shepherds in the Puglia region in southern Italy, forced to work in unsafe conditions and live in hovels.

On September 7, Italian carabinieri arrested three people involved: two in Tuturano in the Brindisi province - a 51-year-old and his 37-year-old companion - and one in Laterza, in the Taranto province, for illegal intermediation and exploitation of undocumented labor.

Minister Bellanova praises law

''The law against illegal exploitative labor that our country has, as is evidenced once again, is an excellent one that is held up as best practice by Europe,'' the new agriculture minister, Teresa Bellanova said when commenting on the arrest.

The link between exploitative employers and the exploited migrants, she said, must be severed "in services: transport and places of residence." She added that this requires "enormous effort" and would require working "alongside businesses and not against them, since exploitative labor means unfair competition and harms the businesses - and there are many - that work lawfully."

The couple arrested in Tuturano, carabinieri say, had made a 20-year-old man from Gambia work as a shepherd for 14 hours a day starting at 5 AM for about 1.50 euros per hour, without a weekly day of rest or any other time off. The young man slept in a bed on the farm where he had been living and working since May 2018. He led a flock of about 400 animals to pasture and back, in the morning and evening, milked cows and cleaned the barn.

The man had a permit to stay for humanitarian reasons that had expired in May 2019. The two suspects arrested are accused of having made the young man believe that he had been employed legally by another farm in the area. The administrator of the farm has been reported to the police.

The Laterza case

The 54-year-old from Laterza, who owned a livestock farm in Ginosa, has been placed under house arrest for allegedly forcing two Albanians without permits to stay to work for 15 hours a day as shepherds and guards of livestock, paying them 1.50 euros per hour.

Neither had an official work contract and were lodged in a delapidated farm building with an asbestos roof that was falling apart. Two other similar cases were discovered just a few days previously.

On August 17, a 46-year-old farm owner with a criminal record from Casamassima in the Bari province was arrested and on September 4 a 60-year-old man with a farm in Mottola, in the Taranto province, was put under house arrest on similar charges.


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