sabato 17 gennaio 2015

Migrant workers: the exploited, vilified but valuable resource

"We steal the job." "With so many Italians unemployed, particularly young people, there is no place for immigrants: first Italians!". "They are a burden to the state and to our economy, especially at a time of crisis like the one that paralyzed the country for years." Slogan of this content are on the agenda. Increasingly frequent. Were the common thread of all the latest protests. Sometimes having a vast, actually as large as Rome, Milan, Turin. Other times limited to smaller cities and, therefore, less sensational. But just as dangerous. And in the wake of these events is growing opinion that continue to welcome migrants is likely to aggravate the social and economic tensions that occur not only in Italy but in other European countries: suffice it to mention the recent protests in Germany. This view (but it would be more accurate to call it a bad "commonplace") does not take into account that the majority of immigrants arrived in the last few years (especially in 2014) from Africa and the Middle East are refugees and asylum seekers. People, that is, who have had to leave their country to escape war and persecution, and that should be welcomed, according to international law, because their is a "flight for life." It is, in essence, a matter of respect for human rights, beginning with those in the very life and freedom.
Apart from that, however, from the point of view of economic migrants are not a problem but a resource for the countries that receive them. In particular for Italy, where the balance between costs and benefits is strongly in favor of the insured benefits from the presence of foreign workers. Enough to remember that produce on average between 9 and 10 percent of the national GDP but, to go into details, this comes across even more evident.
A study published in December 2013 by Senator Luigi Manconi (Pd) and the sociologist Valentina Brinis shows that migrants are essential in important areas such as health, construction, trade, steel, agriculture and agribusiness, included (albeit with tasks of manual labor or otherwise low-level) the chain of some of the finest products made in Italy. Cattle farms of the Po Valley, which are the basis for the production of Parmesan, for example, workers are mostly foreigners: they who have given solution to the crisis of the milkers, herdsmen, the staff at the stables. The same happens in the southern Lazio for herds of buffaloes, which is linked to the famous mozzarella exported worldwide. Ditto for the nursery activities: in the greenhouses of the province of Latina, exporting flowers and ornamental plants in half of Europe, the workers are overwhelmingly foreign. In a recent meeting, the president of the farmers of Lazio, Sergio Ricotta, he explicitly said: "Without migrant workers, many of us would have to close businesses or otherwise be in serious difficulties." Why? Why, despite the crisis, Italians this kind of work no longer want them. Namely: the presence of migrants does not compete with the Italians. No "stealing work".
Even more telling is a study published last November by the foundation Leone Moressa of Venice, which shows that, by adding the tax revenue and the contributory revenue for state coffers due to foreigners in 2013 exceeded 16.6 billion euro. By contrast, the state has spent on foreign (school, social services, health, justice, security, etc.) Just over 12.6 billion. That is, in 2013 Italians have "earned" about 4 billion euro by the presence of migrants. A figure that corresponds to the revenue IMU on the first house, which is considered an essential element in the state budget. And it is a fact of life: that far in average annual assets that immigration leaves the Italian economy. Not to mention the social benefits. Some indirect, such as at least partial rebalancing of the rate of population aging, which is worrying, but it would be even more evident without the presence of so many young immigrants and is known, as noted by the Censis, that a company is more "old" most tend to withdraw into himself, unable to look forward to. But other benefits are much more direct and immediately measurable in economic terms. As the assistance provided by approximately 830 thousand BandAntica to over one million elderly and dependent persons, who otherwise might burden the health care system, with a cost of hundreds of millions of euro a year. "That million seniors - Gian Antonio Stella wrote in the Corriere della Sera - are four times as many patients in public facilities. If you were to deal with the state, hello: a bed, from the purchase of land for the construction of the structure, from furniture to linens, costs 150 thousand euro. For a million patients should shell out 150 billion. And then take (eight people every ten beds) 800 000 employees, for a total expenditure annually (26 000 euro each) of almost 21 billion. More miscellaneous expenses. "
In light of these data, we would have to open the doors to foreigners. Welcome them all, as the headline his research Senator Manconi. Instead, not only in general are viewed with suspicion as a minimum, but face discrimination continued. This was revealed in no uncertain terms that the OECD, in a report published last July, essentially says that migrants work harder and earn less than the Italians. "Immigrants - the researchers write - are disproportionately employed in precarious jobs, low-skilled, poorly paid and often victims of discrimination and selective redundancies, with little chance to access more qualified jobs."
It is easy to switch from discrimination exploitation and abuse. But even worse. This is demonstrated by a series of incidents come to light in recent years. It is worth mentioning some of the most severe cases and recent.

Rome. Minor slaves to the food center. Egyptian boys, guests typically of shelters, working over 12 hours a day for twenty euro. He revealed the weekly L'Espresso with a report published in late November. A work in black, but planned from before the departure from Egypt. "Every day - writes Rosita Factor - dozens of children climbing over the fences of the food center, eluding the vigilance of agents that control the entire area. They work to move boxes of fruit for the whole day, for 20 euro compensation. "The agreement provides that families have signed at home, when they left, thinking maybe to make their fortune. The result is a system of illegal hiring organized by Egyptian immigrants but, it is to believe, with a widespread network of complicity in Italy. The direction of the Dear intensified supervision and arrived to make up to 200 rejections per day of illegal workers. But it is not easy: there have been even aggression against workers in order. A dangerous signal, which suggests the presence of a racket decided to establish a criminal of laborers in the food center of Rome, the largest in Italy, by exploiting the work of migrants.

Ragusa. Romanian slaves in greenhouses. Even this scandal was raised by an investigation of the weekly L'Espresso, last October. However signals and complaints date back much earlier. In particular, he spoke often, unheard, father Benjamin Sacco, a pastor of the small town of Vittoria. The province of Ragusa, the "city of the first fruits," is one of the most important fruit districts of Italy. A sea of greenhouses in which they work more than five thousand women, mostly Romanian. And precisely the Romanian, the weak, the victims of the abuses that, as is clear from the investigation, have reduced almost to slavery. "They live segregated in the country, often with young children - writes Antonello Mangano, the author of the report - in total isolation suffer all kinds of violence, including sexual. Everyone knows and nobody talks about. "Needless to add that the wage, whole or in part, is almost always in black.

Latina. Laborers junkies to resist fatigue. And 'one of the most striking cases of inhuman exploitation of foreign workers, so as to have "earned" in 2014 a chapter in "Immigration", the file statistics published each year by the National Office Against Racial Discrimination (UNAR). A proven, well-structured and organized to make the most from the work of Indian laborers (mostly Sikhs originating in Punjab) emigrated in the Pontine Marshes. The survey brought to light non-profit association "On Migration", the battle which was then joined the CGIL. The investigation, conducted on the basis of a series of testimonies and field testing, there was a widespread organization that behind the apparent legality, hid very low wages (on average 3 euro per hour in front of the national contract 8,26 ); unreasonable hours, up to 12 and more working hours per day (against 6.40 provided by the national contract) and often inadequate housing conditions to say the least. Not to mention a "gray" area hidden in the folds of the rules in order to escape controls. For example, payroll and contracts in order, but the trick to account for far fewer hours or days of those actually worked, up to the limit case of a worker who is employed for only two days despite having worked for nearly a month. A work in the fields or in greenhouses, heavy and often without breaks during the day, to the point of forcing some laborers to take drugs to withstand the physical and psychological fatigue. As demonstrated by a parallel investigation conducted by the prosecutor and the squad of the police headquarters in Latin America, also worked a manpower recruitment, with Italian and Indian intermediaries, through a criminal organization dedicated to assisting illegal immigration.

Campania and Puglia. Laborers exploited. A system of illegal hiring and exploitation similar to that of the Sikhs and Indian laborers of the Pontine works for years in the countryside of Puglia and Campania (particularly in the province of Caserta) for a variety of seasonal jobs extremely tiring: tomato harvesting, collecting olives, etc. The technique is the same: black and piecework payments (so much per box filled); payroll apparently regular but covering only a small part of the days actually worked; recruitment through corporals to whom we paid a share of the salary; Payments made from the same corporals, taking almost as a placement agents, giving virtually "rent" to the companies entire teams of workers. Increasingly rare, also enlisting random daily, replaced by teams, mostly, always by the same men, and to be used for longer or shorter periods.

Rosarno. Exploitation and racist pogroms. Exploitative situations similar to those recorded in Campania and Puglia have emerged in January 2010 for the foreign laborers employed in the collection of citrus fruits in the plain of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria. With more heavy racist implications. To bring everything to light was a real revolt laborers, exploded on 8 and 9 January, followed by a true "hunt black".
The findings of fact seems a chronicle of war. The spark are some shots of air gun fired by three thugs against a group of young Africans who, after a day's work in the citrus groves, is returning to Rognetta, an old factory converted into a makeshift dormitory, on the outskirts of Rosarno, a town of 15 000 inhabitants. Two were injured. The aggression unleashed the anger of some five thousand foreign workers of the plain. Hundreds of their reach in procession Rosarno, putting it on fire: destroyed cars, shop windows smashed, shops assault, beating passers-by. When the police intervene, begins a real urban warfare. The entire area is manned forces, almost put under siege, but the day after the protest on again, with new clashes. The migrants (as in a similar revolt took place, always in Rosario, in December 2008) denouncing exploitation, racist contempt, lack of reception facilities and integration, despite their seasonal work is vital to the economy of the plain and the same Calabria. Many speak of exploitation run by the 'Ndrangheta through a network of corporals: 25 € per day (of which 5 to be paid to Corporal) for 10, 12 hours of work in the citrus groves, at least in part belonging to mafia clans. In the country, already the second day, they form groups of "self-defense" among the inhabitants, followed by patrols armed with iron bars and often rifles, sifting town and country, hitting foreign isolated or in small groups, the houses of several immigrants, makeshift shelters laborers, giving them to the flames. A climate of pogroms, which induces Prefecture Government and to order the eviction of all immigrants in the area.
  Incidents of exploitation and often racism as these are still there, despite all the real data demonstrate how the work of foreigners is essential for the Italian economy. One wonders what the reasons for this apparent contradiction. Probably a lot depends on misinformation, stereotypes, prejudices. Enhanced insecurity and fears caused by the economic crisis affecting the country for years. Ridden or otherwise manipulated by the political right and the extreme right, including openly neo-fascist groups like Forza Nuova and Casa Pound, who found a bank involved in the Northern League. And veined also a good dose of xenophobia.
It 'a very worrying situation: the result is a result which could become uncontrollable. The agency Habeshia appeals to the Government, the Parliament, the unions, to all democratic forces to intervene forcefully to ensure regularity and safety to all migrants, like the Italians.
A few days ago we celebrated the World Day of migrant workers and their families, established to highlight the importance of the International Convention on the Protection of the rights of migrant workers, in fact, voting at the United Nations on 18 December 1990 at the end a grueling journey that lasted two decades. To date, in December 2014, twenty-five years to the day since that vote, Italy has not yet signed and adopted the Convention. Just this week the Parliament is launching the reform on the job. Arrive soon, by the government, even the decision to make its recommendations voted on by the UN in 1990, would be an important signal against all oppression and exploitation that continue to occur towards migrants. Provided that, as too often happens, the commitments contained in the agreement do not remain only on paper. The first test could be, right in a year, the World Day of 2015.
Fr. Mussie Zerai

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