From file: Police officers in Italy | Photo: ANSA
From file: Police officers in Italy | Photo: ANSA

Twenty foreign farmhands working "off the books" were discovered in the countryside near Caserta, in the Campania region, during operations carried out by local labor inspectors and Carabinieri police. Authorities subsequently issued measures to suspend the activity of four farms.

Twenty foreigners working off the books have been discovered in the countryside around Caserta, in the Campania region, during an operation carried out on Thursday (August 11) by labor inspectors and members of the Carabinieri police labor inspectorate unit NIL. The workers mainly hailed from eastern Europe and North Africa, investigative sources said.

Measures to suspend the activity of four farms have also been issued by authorities, according to the same source.

The operation was carried out by a task force including personnel from the labor inspectors' office in Caserta, which coordinated the activity as part of project SU.PR.EME against labor exploitation in agriculture and the gangmastering system, as well as the labor inspectorates of Naples and Salerno, in Campania, Sassari, in Sardinia, and in the capital Rome.

20 workers without contract, 51 without residence permit

The entire operation involved a total of 17 farms located in the farming areas of Aversano, Sessano and Mazzoni, where there are mainly plantations of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and watermelons. The inspectors checked the position of 64 workers, discovering that 20 of them were working without a contract, investigative sources said.

Out of the 64 workers, 51 were non-EU citizens without a residence permit and five entrepreneurs have been reported to the authorities for employing them. The entrepreneurs are also being investigated on labor exploitation charges.

In a field in the area of Mazzoni, inspectors found seven Tunisians without a stay permit who were working under the scorching sun.

They were allegedly paid seven euros per box and employed for nine hours a day, seven days a week, according to investigative sources. Labor inspectors are also verifying potential violations of working hours and safety on the job, including the lack of individual protection for workers.

Operations also in Puglia, nine companies suspended

The activities of four additional companies were suspended on Thursday (August 11) in Puglia over the alleged employment of unreported workers and the violation of safety rules, following operations against labor exploitation and the gangmastering system.

The inspections were part of the project 'Alt Caporalato!' (stop gangmastering), coordinated by the labor inspectorate of Bari, in Puglia.

In particular, the operations took place in the provinces of Bari and Barletta-Andria-Trani (BAT) and the municipalities of Barletta, Casamassima, Triggiano and Altamura, and involved companies operating in manufacturing and trade.

A total of 21 employees were controlled, including six Italian citizens and 15 from non-EU countries, mainly China.

Inspections, according to a statement, revealed a series of violations on labor safety, including the lack of a document on the evaluation of risks on the job, the appointment of a doctor, the designation of someone responsible for the service of prevention and protection, training on safety in the workplace and for unsanitary conditions, including not ensuring that bathrooms were cleaned.

Six workers were employed off the books, including one who did not have a residence permit, according to the same source.

In another operation carried out Friday, August 12, in the area of Foggia, officials discovered workers without a stay permit, employed in particular to harvest tomatoes. Due to a series of irregularities discovered during the inspections, five activities were suspended and three employers were reported to the authorities for violating immigration laws.

The task force was coordinated by the Territorial labor inspectorate of Foggia.Overall, 11 farms were inspected to verify the position of 111 farmworkers, 57 of whom were from non-EU countries. The inspectors found "violations in labor and social laws, as well as of safety on the job, regarding 29 workers, 17 of whom were working 'off the books'."


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