Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Italy's Moroccan Slaves

Nearly 1,000 Moroccan migrants are living in what the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), a body not known for its use of strong critical language, says amounts to slavery. The IOM claim the migrants are living in abandoned buildings "eking out a living amid piles of rubbish, without running water or electricity."

The young Moroccans were travelled to Italy on tourist visas having paid up to 8,000 euros per person to a middle-man in their home country for the false promises of contracts regular seasonal labour contracts and regularisation of their status. Once there the employers did no materialize or they refused to give them contracts, leaving them open to being exploited by some of the same unscrupulous employers, who pay them between 15 and 25 euros a day for a 12-hour day labouring in nearby greenhouses and fields. Their employers often charged them for basics like transport and water, in the sweltering summer temperatures of southern Italy.

Each year, Italy sets a quota for the number of migrant workers allowed to enter the country as seasonal workers in its large agricultural sector, which also relies on cheap, illegal labour to maintain its profit margins. Official statistics showing that undocumented labour accounts for between 15.9 percent and 17.6 percent of gross domestic product, mainly in the agricultural sector.

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