The CGIL union in Puglia, in southern Italy, has asked the regional government to urgently find solutions to empty informal migrant settlements, after a fire destroyed ten barracks in the infamous Borgo Mezzanone shantytown.
"Once again, fires burned shacks in the informal settlements of foreign agricultural workers of the Capitanata (an area of Puglia). We ask the Puglia Region to urgently convene a discussion table to finally overcome the unacceptable existence of such ghettos by using the 114 million made available by the Ministry of Labor for the entire region, 103 for the province of Foggia alone."
This is what the general secretary of regional union CGIL Puglia, Pino Gesmundo, and the general secretary of Flai CGIL Puglia (regional agricultural workers' union), Antonio Gagliardi, asked in a note on Thursday, October 5.
"These settlements must become a thing of the past. We can no longer cry for dead workers, we must no longer accept these unhealthy settlements, the exploitation by gangmasters."
Fire in the ghetto in Foggia destroys a dozen shacks
The appeal comes after a fire broke out on the morning of October 1 in the shantytown of Borgo Mezzanone, in the Foggia area, destroying a dozen shacks. The causes of the the fire are under investigation. None of the approximately 1,500 migrants who live in the shantytown permanently were reported to be injured.
"This time, fortunately, there were no injuries or victims, but anger and indignation remain when we look at the conditions in which many people are forced to live," said Giovanni Mininni, Secretary General Flai CGIL on that occasion.
"The places to welcome those who come to work in our country cannot be makeshift agglomerations. These ghettos are no longer tolerable, decent housing solutions must be found in a short time."
Permanently overcome the 'ghettos'
The note referred to Law 199/2016, which addresses the issue of hospitality "as a premise for workers to live in conditions of safety and non-blackmail." According to the union this law still remains completely inapplicable precisely where it should be used to address issues relating to reception, placement and preventive measures.
"We ask the Region to urgently convene the discussion table together with the mayors of the Municipalities involved, to understand at what point the planning and the procedures are. The opportunity to cancel these shameful phenomena must not be lost. We must erase the shame of the ghettos from the maps of Puglia," concluded the statement.