A view of the tent camp of San Ferdinando, on the Gioia Tauro plain in southern Italy | Photo: Alessandro Sgherri / Archive / ANSA
A view of the tent camp of San Ferdinando, on the Gioia Tauro plain in southern Italy | Photo: Alessandro Sgherri / Archive / ANSA

A new report has denounced the labor conditions for migrant agriculture workers on the Gioia Tauro plain in southern Calabria. The report is published by the Italian organization Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU).

The organization Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) said in a new report published on June 17 that the situation for migrant farmhands working in the fields on the Gioia Tauro plain are "desolate."

MEDU, which is operating in the area for the eighth consecutive year, said that tent camps where farmhands live have become "shanty towns" and there are "piles of waste in informal settlements as well as housing centers."

Transportation is "nonexistent, healthcare is near collapse" and institutions are "powerless and often placed into receivership," the report found. It also said undeclared work was very common and the agricultural sector is "in crisis."

MEDU went on to say in a statement that "access to [medical] treatment is hampered by red tape, lack of information, isolation in housing and on the job. Access to basic rights remains blocked for many due to irregularities in contracts, salaries and social security positions that systematically characterize" these types of contracts.

Epidemiological monitoring 'scarcely effective'

The second wave of COVID-19, pointed out MEDU, affected the container camp in Rosarno and the new tent camp in the town of San Ferdinando, leading to the creation of two red zones, "but the initiatives of epidemiological monitoring were incoherent and scarcely effective."

Moreover, stressed MEDU, there were "several road accidents [which] involved farmhands who were cycling to work, including one in which Gossama Gora died in a hit-and-run accident on December 21, 2020."

The organization said that 324 people who did seek MEDU's assistance were young men. In 94% of cases, the migrants had a regular stay permit and had an average age of 32. Most came from western sub-Saharan Africa.

Only 13% of patients were registered with the national healthcare service and most of their ailments were caused by their precarious living and working conditions.

Only 56% of workers assisted had a job contract

Only 56% of workers assisted by MEDU had a legal job contract and only 52% had a regular salary.

In all cases, although the farmhands worked between five to seven days a week, on average for eight hours a day, their employers officially declared that they worked no more than 10 days a month.

They earned on average €35 a day or, if they were paid per case they filled, between 1.20 and 1.50 euros for each 25-kilo box of fruit and vegetables.

 

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