An image provided by finance police after checks on a farm employing migrants in Cassibile | Photo: ANSA/Ufficio Stampa GDF
An image provided by finance police after checks on a farm employing migrants in Cassibile | Photo: ANSA/Ufficio Stampa GDF

The labor unions Flai and CGIL in Sicily have organized an initiative on May 1, International Workers' Day, to support some 300 foreign workers who are stranded at a tent camp in the town of Cassibile in Sicily.

May 1 is International Workers' Day every year. This year, two Italian unions Flai and CGIL decided to organize an initiative to help 300 stranded foreign workers at a tent camp in Sicily.  The migrants can't go to work because they are undocumented or without a legal job contract and therefore can't obtain a permit under lockdown measures implemented by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The initiative organized by the unions was aimed at regularizing farmhands, half of whom are migrants. Some of the workers don't have any documents, others are lacking a legal work contract.

'We ask for the regularization of migrants'

The situation is due to "exploitation and the gang-masters system which is putting these workers in a very difficult situation and depriving the country of manpower," the Sicilian leaders of CGIL and Flai said in a statement published on April 29. "We ask for the regularization of migrants and for legal job contracts so that workers can, when necessary, get the aid provided during the period of emergency and are safe with healthcare protection," they added.

Flai and CGIL noted that "ensuring dignified conditions of work and life to immigrants is the road to improve the working conditions of farmhands. The introduction of vouchers would only lead to the creation of new forms of slavery."

Hundreds of migrant farmhands work between Siracusa and Avola

There are hundreds of migrant farmhands working in the fields between the towns of Siracusa and Avola in Sicily. Although chemical toilets have been provided for the tent camp "and the municipal administration is providing drinking water, the hygienic and sanitary conditions inside remain precarious," the union noted.

In fact, "some 4,000 farmhands, half of whom are migrants, are believed to work between Siracusa and Avola." said the union representatives in Siracusa.  They added that only about a quarter of those, or 1,000 appeared to have regular job contracts. 

On May 1, the two unions organized a demonstration in Cassibile. The unions also donated food to migrants to mark International Workers' Day. CGIL and Flai have also raised money and donated shopping vouchers to families in need in Siracusa.

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