Terragiusta. Campaign Against the Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Agriculture in Italy

Project location: Italy
Project start date: October 2013 - Project end date: October 2014
Project number: 2013-019
Beneficiary: Medici per i Diritti Umani (MEDU)


During the citrus fruits season, from November to March, every year over 2.000 agricultural workers arrive in the Piana di Gioia Tauro, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. Even though the same phenomenon occurs yearly in the municipalities of Rosarno, San Ferdinando, Rizziconi and Taurianova the working and living conditions of these migrants - on whose shoulders the agricultural yields of the Piana are literally based- continue to be disastrous and are incompatible with the principles of a country that should be respectful of fundamental human rights. Little or nothing seems to have changed in relation to the living and social conditions that were the basis of the dramatic situation in Rosarno in 2010. During the project Terragiusta. Campaign against the exploitation of migrant workers in agriculture (Terragiusta I), a MEDU field team realized a socio-sanitary intervention in the Piana di Gioia Tauro from February to April 2014. This activity revealed that the communities and the territories of the Piana are facing more critical and dramatic problems compared with the other territories (Campania, Puglia, Basilicata) where the project has been developed (have a look to the report "Reception of seasonal workers. Rosarno and the Piana di Gioia Tauro are left alone").

In the area of Piana di Gioia Tauro , more than in others, the worst aspects of a certain model of agriculture appear most clearly which than in other areas. In fact, on the one hand the agriculture sector is unable of innovation and, on the other, it compensates for its lack of competitiveness through under-wages, black-works, illegal hiring (caporalato) and the ghettoization of immigrant workers. What seems to be completely missing in the Piana di Gioia Tauro is not only an accurate planning of seasonal reception for the employed agricultural immigrants, but most of all a political will to face what is one of the most dramatic and shameful issues of immigration in Italy. This is in fact a matter which requires concrete and coherent answers on behalf of the institutions and in particular of the Government and the Region Calabria, especially in consideration of the profound social, economic and legality problems of the territory. To this shocking casualness for the living and working conditions of migrant laborers, some sectors of civil society of the Piana di Gioia Tauro are answering with projects and initiatives that demonstrate how it is possible to develop valid paths to the reception and integration, even with limited resources. This project intends to be in continuity with the intervention Terragiusta I started in the Piana during the period February to April 2014, ensuring the presence in the most critical areas of this area during all the season of the citrus harvest (November to March), in order to develop a more continuous and sustained socio-sanitary and orientation assistance and more effective advocacy activities.

The Nando Peretti Foundation awarded a grant in 2013 and 2014 for this project to achieve these expected goals:

1. Migrant workers with health problems are properly assisted and receive information on how to access local health services;
2. Migrant workers are adequately informed about the protections afforded by the current legislation on occupational health
3. The competent institutions and policy makers are informed about migrant workers reception and working conditions and about the proposals to improve them;
4. Public opinion and policy makers are informed about relevant social, health and working conditions of the beneficiaries of the project.

The followng activities will be carried out:

1. Health and social assistance and counselling in the living settlements and in proximity of the workplaces
2. Information and socio-sanitary orientation about health protection at work
3. Health and social monitoring
4. Information and advocacy with the institutions
5. Information and complaint with the civil society

Based on the experience developed during the first intervention in the Piana di Gioia Tauro, a MEDU field team (coordinator, doctor and cultural mediator) will improve the activities described in the project. The team will work with a mobile clinic and an house/office close to the intervention area. The field team will work in close coordination with a MEDU team based in Rome. The team will realize the activities in collaboration with the network of organisations and associations developed during Terragiusta I (Emergency, Caritas of Drosi, SOS Rosarno, CGIL) and, concerning the legal aspects, with the partners of Terragiusta I (ASGI, LTPD). The sanitary intervention will be developed also in coordination with the ASP (the public local healthcare structure) of Reggio Calabria through a partnership, in continuity with the agreement signed during Terragiusta I. The collaboration with the ASP will have also the purpose to build good practices - already running in other regions - aimed to improve migrant workers' access to health.
From the point of view of advocacy, the ability of this intervention to achieve a real change is based on the constant presence in the field of an independent organization which from its social-health practice will be able either to inform the public opinion and to denounce the violations of fundamental rights of migrant workers (external advocacy towards institutions) either to talk directly with the institution indicating the critical issues and proposing concrete solutions (internal advocacy towards institutions).

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