Flags of the Cigl Union | Photo: Archive ANSA / DANIELE CAROTTI
Flags of the Cigl Union | Photo: Archive ANSA / DANIELE CAROTTI

The Italian unions Cgil and Filcams have asked to meet the prefects of Palermo and Trapani in order to put safeguard measures in place for female migrant workers. This follows the surfacing of the exploitation case of Nigerian women as 'cleaning slaves'.

The Italian Unions Cgil and Filcams asked to meet the representatives of the prefects of Palermo and Trapani to discuss issues regarding the recent case of the exploitation of female Nigerian migrant workers.

The Nigerian women, hosted by shelters, had carried out cleaning services for some facilities in Palermo and Castelvetrano. An investigation led to the arrest of five people on Thursday (July 21): two persons responsible for running the migrant shelters and three from the cleaning companies.

The system of the so called 'cleaning slaves' was thus finally uncovered. It was primarily women who were allegedly exploited for cleaning services with brutal shifts and fake part-time contracts or working under the table.

The Cgil and Filcams unions said they are ready to put all the necessary measures in place to safeguard the workers and to help them find legal and continuous work.

'Growing concern for what the investigation has uncovered'

"We wish to express our growing concern for the situation that has been uncovered by the investigation on the illegal exploitation of migrants hosted in some of the shelters which were accredited facilities of the province of Palermo," declared the secretary generals of Cgil and Filcams in a statement.

"From what has emerged from the media, it appears that these shelters, instead of safeguarding the well-being of the migrants who are under the protection of international law, have actually exposed them to exploitation of their work."

"Furthermore, from what has been uncovered so far," the unions added, "it would appear that the hotels that used these services underpaid the migrant workers and exacted from them brutal work shifts, not aligned to Italian contractual laws, conditions which might qualify this activity as illegal as decreed by the 1999 law of 2016."

The prefects of Palermo and Trapani were asked by the Unions that an urgent meeting be scheduled, including the local migration committees, with a view to gather all the elements needed by Cgil and Filcams to "deploy our safeguard measures for the workers."


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