A finance police operation against the gangmaster system in Lombardy, Italy | Photo: ANSA/Guardia di Finanza
A finance police operation against the gangmaster system in Lombardy, Italy | Photo: ANSA/Guardia di Finanza

Italy's government is launching a new national project to fight the exploitation of migrant farmworkers.

A meeting between the Italian interior and labor ministers and other Italian authorities was held on March 9 at the Italian interior ministry. The goal: To improve Rome's strategy to fight the gangmaster system, including the activation of a project called 'Seasonal work - dignity and legality.'

Migrant worker exploitation

Migrant workers are often at risk of exploitation on Italian farms. The aim of the project is to improve the management and rules of seasonal employment in order to ensure dignified and legal work conditions.

During the meeting, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said that the "project responds to a pressing request of legality coming from mayors and territories that can also be satisfied by acting through (migration) flow decrees, in order to guarantee transparency and the respect of rules in relations between businesses and seasonal workers."

Officials at the meeting pledged to sign a protocol of agreement to define rules of intervention with local administrations as soon as possible.

'Manage seasonal work in a legal way'

Along with Lamorgese, the meeting was attended by Labor Minister Andrea Orlando, by the president of the National Council of ANCI (the national association of Italian municipalities), Enzo Bianco, by the attorney general of the supreme Cassation Court, Giovanni Salvi, and -- via video -- by professor Mario Savino, by the representative of farmers' union Coldiretti, Romano Magrini, and by the former prosecutors Giancarlo Caselli and Cataldo Motta on behalf of the Foundation Agromafie.

Minister Orlando stressed the "need to manage seasonal work in a legal way also with the aim of guaranteeing free competition and not penalizing those firms that are implementing the national employment agreement."

Prosecutor Salvi noted that the current legislation has an element of novelty as it enables to legally pursue not only gangmasters but also businesses exploiting workers.

Magrini, the representative of Coldiretti, praised the project's novelty and its positive impact on businesses.

Lawful employment in farming

"The time has come to shift from unsustainable situations linked to the gangmaster system to the full lawfulness of employment in the agribusiness, in every part of the country", said the president of ANCI, Enzo Bianco.

Bianco said the project is fully supported by the president of ANCI, Antonio Decaro, and the interior and Labor ministries, and "can be implemented thanks to team work involving mayors and municipalities, national and regional institutions, the labor market in all its articulations."

"Municipalities will be able to intervene within their jurisdictions on two key points: the transportation of workers, so far a strength of the gangmaster system, and housing, for example through social housing projects," Bianco said.


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