Day labourers working in Italian field | Photo: PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/QUOTIDIANO DEL SUD
Day labourers working in Italian field | Photo: PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/QUOTIDIANO DEL SUD

The Italian trade union FLAI CGIL has spoken out against seasonal migrant workers in the Puglia region allegedly paying a "stay tax" of one euro per day to live in a "guesthouse that seems more of a makeshift refugee camp."

Hundreds of seasonal migrant day labourers involved in the cherry harvest in Turi, in the southern Italian Puglia region, are hosted in facilities "called a guesthouse, but which instead seems more like a makeshift refugee camp," according to the Italian trade union FLAI CGIL. Migrants there are reported to pay a 'stay tax' of one euro per day to the town council.

The guesthouse, the union said, is one for which "over a month ago the Puglia regional government had made available about €160,000 to the Turi town council." The union announced on Saturday (June 4) the intention of asking for a meeting with the prefect's office.

Housed in plastic gazebos

CGIL said that the day laborers are housed in "plastic gazebos measuring 4x4 square meters, entirely lacking in any accessory or furnishings that could make them able to be inhabited. Inside are only wooden platforms on which the workers have put makeshift mattresses donated by associations or covers on which they sleep."

"Toilets and showers are available but not enough, since the reception facilities were designed for a maximum 120 people and at the moment it is housing 185. In the surrounding area, some 350 others are present in very small and precarious camping tents."

The "stay tax of a euro per day to the Turi town council," the trade union said, is paid on the basis of "an ordinance by the prefect office commissioner, which had been at the head of the town council administration until 2019." This was a tax that the "mayor had pledged to get rid of immediately" after her election in May 2019.

'Extremely precarious situation'

In the hovels, the trade union continued, "there are not even cooking facilities and workers are forced to use gas stoves to cook their food outside the camp, running the risk of accidents such as one that happened some days ago when a canister exploded, burning and injuring the worker that was using it."

"The situation," said Anna Lepore, the secretary general of the Bari branch of FLAI CGIL said, "is extremely precarious and thus it is impossible to ensure basic service for those hosted, as was seen yesterday when water in tanks ran out and urgent intervention was required from technicians of the Puglia Aquaduct and the Civil Protection, alerted by the mayor and the offices of the Puglia regional governor's office, who installed an additional tank of 5,000 liters to ensure bathroom services."

Mayor pledges to resolve situation

Meanwhile, mayor Tina Resta has met with the local branch of FLAI CGIL and the regional Puglia one as well as workers, "pledging to call with the maximum urgency all those affected by the situation, starting from agricultural firms that in line with their contracts should provide housing for the seasonal workers, but who often do not abide even by the national and provincial collective contracts."

The trade union will also ask the Bari prefect to "urgently call trade union organisations, employers associations, and the town councils of all the municipalities involved in the management of seasonal work so as to start planning structural interventions immediately, starting from the use of resources from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), in order to ensure that seasonal workers are no longer experienced as a sort of emergency."


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