On 6 August, 12 migrant workers died on the roads of the province of Foggia in the Italian region of Apullia. They were crammed in the back of a white van with a Bulgarian license plate when the van crashed against a truck, putting an end to their lives and spilling fresh blood along the red tomato fields. They were coming back after a long day spent picking tomatoes in the fields for 1,5 to 2 Euros per hour following the orders of a caporale – gang master. Last Saturday, another four migrant workers died in a similar accident on the provincial road 105 between Ascoli Satriano and Castelluccio dei Sauri, also in the province of Foggia. Another four were seriously injured.

This is not an uncommon sight among the workers at Capitanata, where exploitation and illegal practices are rife. It is time to stop their exploitation and to put an end to inhumane practices. “However, what happened is not a simple accident, but the consequence of the conditions in which these men are forced to work” emphasized Ivana Galli, Secretary General of EFFAT member organisation Flai Cgil. This year Flai is involved in the Ancora in campo campaign – back in the field. The objective of the campaign is to meet the labourers employed to sow and harvest crops in southern Italy in order to inform them directly about their rights.

Today, at 6 pm, EFFAT Italian member organisations Flai Fai and Uila, alongside other civil society organisations and NGOs, will take part in a joint demonstration in the centre of Foggia to denounce the tragic working and living conditions of migrant workers employed in the agriculture sector in Italy. It is urgent that institutions enforce the full application of the law on caporalato adopted two years ago.

EFFAT fully support its Italian member organization who are calling the Italian government to convene an urgent meeting with the local authorities and the unions. The death toll of the past days has uncovered once more the appalling conditions suffered by swathes of agricultural workers, with hundreds of human lives still at risk.

The commitment of our members is crucial, yet must be accompanied by a clear political will and outstanding institutional effort in order to put an end to exploitation – nothing else than a modern form of slavery.

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