Labor unions CGIL and FLAI CGIL of Siena said they received reports of exploitation and violence against foreign workers in companies that offer specific services to farms in the area of Val d'Elsa, in the Italian region of Tuscany.
On Wednesday, labor unions CGIL and FLAI CGIL of Siena sent out an alarm on worker exploitation in farming. "We are very concerned, because after Chianti, we are now receiving reports in Val d'Elsa of exploitation and even complaints of violence against foreign workers in companies that offer specific services to farms in the area," the unions said.
"These companies, through their trusted men that all the workers habitually call 'boss', also because often they don't know their identity, bring people to the worksite -- vineyards and fields belonging to the farms -- and force them to work at an exhausting pace under threat of repercussions, including physical, which unfortunately are used if workers hint at wanting a legal contract, a fair wage, or tolerable working methods and hours."
A disturbing problem
"The problem is becoming disturbing, because it outlines a widespread practice of labor exploitation and tells of pressures and violence against people who often don't even understand the language by external personnel who work at large farms in our area, often well-known and well-respected," the unions said.
"We are asking ourselves whether those farms -- which are also certainly managing to make more of a profit thanks to the work of these teams of laborers -- are checking what is happening on their properties," they said.
"Frankly, we find it difficult to believe that they don't know. Let's remember that these people are responsible by law for these matters and therefore we suggest that they check who they entrust their work to, also because the prestige and the level of a product is the result of the quality of the labor processes that make it," they said.
Monitor these problems
"We will continue to support all workers who come to us and who find the courage to report even to the authorities the harassment and irregular working methods they are forced to endure, and we call on associations in the sector and professional farms to monitor these problems of illegal gangmastering to fight these crimes, which inevitably lead to unfair competition practices and the debasement of territorial excellence".