Investigations by Carabinieri police in an operation against the exploitation of migrant workers in a farm in the province of Padua | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA CARABINIERI
Investigations by Carabinieri police in an operation against the exploitation of migrant workers in a farm in the province of Padua | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA CARABINIERI

Italian authorities have arrested a 30-year-old Moroccan citizen living in the Veneto city of Padua for allegedly exploiting 23 migrant workers of African origin. The migrants worked in the fields in shifts of up to 15 hours, investigators said.

A 30-year-old Moroccan citizen, a resident of the northen city of Padua, has been arrested for allegedly exploiting 23 immigrants of African origin, investigative sources said on Tuesday, May 31. Some of the migrants are irregularly residing in Italy, the sources added.

The man was arrested by Venice Carabinieri police, in collaboration with labor inspectors in Padua and Carabinieri officers from Este, a town near Padua.

The investigation started in May 2020, after some of the workers reported the alleged exploiter to the authorities.

15-hour-long shifts and no weekly rest

Carabinieri police found that the suspect allegedly recruited Moroccan, Senegalese and Gambian nationals, employing them in local farms, where they were exploited, according to investigative sources. The suspect was followed and monitored while the businesses that employed the workers were inspected. Information was also provided by several workers.

The man allegedly took advantage of the state of need and vulnerability of workers, paying them much less than the wages contemplated by collective regional and national contracts: The workers were paid no more than €5 an hour and were employed in shifts of 10-12 hours a day, which sometimes became 15, without weekly days of rest, investigators said.

The workers picked vegetables in the fields and were forced to work under the rain, in the mud, without a bathroom or a changing room and without being allowed to take a break to eat, constantly monitored by someone, the same sources explained. They also lived in overcrowded accommodation, without gas and hot water, and forced to pay €150 a month for a bed.

The arrested man was thus able to be competitive on the agricultural market, offering advantageous prices to business customers that benefited from the recruitment and employment of irregular workers in particularly demanding and strenuous tasks such as fruit and vegetable harvesting.

 

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