The Italian minister for agricultural policies and tourism, Teresa Bellanova | Photo: ANSA/GIUSEPPE LAMI
The Italian minister for agricultural policies and tourism, Teresa Bellanova | Photo: ANSA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

The minister for agriculture, Teresa Bellanova, is trying to include the regularization of undocumented foreign workers in the government's 'May decree' which should be approved by the council of ministers in Italy this week. The theme is currently being debated by the Italian cabinet.

The Italian minister for agricultural policies, Teresa Bellanova, wants to introduce a measure regularizing undocumented foreign workers in the 'May decree' which should be approved by the council of ministers this week. 

Bellanova on Tuesday said it was "not possible anymore to buy time," talking about the measure. 

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese is working on the dossier. 

Bellanova, a member of the small Italia Viva party (IV) of ex-premier Matteo Renzi, is pushing to regularize about 600,000 undocumented foreign workers. 

In the ruling coalition, the center-left Democratic Party (PD) is in favor of the measure while the 5-Star Movement (M5s) is pushing on the breaks. 

So far, Labor Minister Nunzia Catalfo, a member of M5S who is directly interested by the reform, has not taken an official position. 

'Take responsibility for regularization' 

Bellanova has said that the State needs to regularize 600,000 ''invisible'' workers. ''What I have told colleagues in the majority is very clear," said Bellanova, explaining that the government needs to ''take the responsibility to regularize people who have been in our country and probably worked for years." 

"If this doesn't happen, the State becomes not only an accomplice but also a promoter of the illegality in which these workers are forced," the minister for agricultural policies went on to say. 

Bellanova said these people, ''who not only work in the countryside but also in construction or in families, need to be granted a stay permit. Leaving things as they are means fostering illegality, unfair competition and the gang-master system," she concluded.

Bellanova and Lamorgese have discussed a measure to grant seasonal stay permits that can be renewed with a job contract. 

However, Lamorgese is allegedly working on the regularization of about one-third of the 600,000 undocumented workers estimated by Bellanova. 

The interior minister wants to deal with the most urgent issue, the regularization of farmhands needed for harvesting, while dealing with the most dangerous situations like illegal tent camps in the countryside of Puglia and Calabria where migrants live in dire sanitary conditions in the midst of the coronavirus emergency. 

Moreover, Lamorgese wants to regularize undocumented Italian workers.

Bellanova and the minister for the south, Giuseppe Provenzano, would also like to include domestic workers and caregivers in the measure, which would significantly increase the number of affected workers -- a move likely to be opposed by members of the M5S. 

Farmers' union say measure would increase State revenues by 1.2 billion

Meanwhile the confederation of Italian farmers CIA said the regularization of undocumented farm hands would bring an additional 1.2 billion euros for national coffers. 

According to CIA, ''if we don't act quickly'', the regularization ''risks to have an impact in too many months' time, when the harvesting season will be over and products will be abandoned in fields because of the lack of manpower, with the consequence that families will find empty shelves in supermarkets."

Anti-migrant euroskeptic League leader Matteo Salvini expressed opposition. Referring to the government he said: "First they let dozens of mafiosi and killers get out of jail and then they try to regularize hundreds of thousands of illegals. We have, all together, the moral duty to stop them."
 

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