Illegal workers victims once again in series of road accidents

Photo: ANSA's updated image

LESINA - Illegal workers were killed in a road accident involving a labourers’ vehicle and a lorry in Apulia, local Carabinieri say.

 The violent collision happened on the Strada Statale 16 near Lesina on Monday. A lorry and a van collided head-on; the van had a Bulgarian license plate and was carrying passengers of African nationality, agricultural workers returning from work in the fields. The lorry was carrying flour-based products.  

 All 12 victims were illegal immigrants. Three passengers of the goods lorry were injured, but none of them are in a serious condition.

 Initially the goods lorry was believed to be carrying crates of tomatoes, and a photo which was published by ANSA showed scattered crates surrounded by a rea sea of squashed tomatoes on the road. It was later confirmed that the vehicle was carrying flour-based products.

 The details of the incident are shockingly similar to those of an accident which occurred just last weekend: four illegal immigrant farm labourers lost their lives in a head-on crash on the 105 provincial road near Ascoli Satriano, not too far from Lesina. Four others were injured and they are still being treated in San Severo hospital.

 A parallel investigation is taking place: that of the poor working conditions of farm labourers. Illegal workers are often exploited, marginalised and treated poorly by their employers. Workers are reported to earn just one euro for each 100 kilograms of tomatoes harvested. Many of these bosses put the lives of their workers at risk; in this period of tomato harvest, there are thousands of foreigners who are employed in the surrounding area of Foggia alone.

 On Wednesday, Aug. 8, there will be a march of the red berets between San Severo and Foggia, as labourers will strike in memory of the victims of the road accidents. Announced at a press conference held by the labourers union on Sunday, the strike will be a “claim to the rights and the dignity of workers.”

 The public prosecutor of Foggia, Ludovico Vaccaro, said to ANSA; "Two separate investigations have been launched one concerning the road accident itself, to get to the bottom of the cause and motivations.The other investigation is into the illegal recruitment. We are trying to identify the companies for which the immigrants have worked to check whether they were made to work in inhumane conditions."

 "These poor people even had problems finding a place in the hospital, I had to intervene personally to ensure that places were found in Foggia and other local hospitals."

 Italy's Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini released a statement after the news broke: "I believe that we need a serious intervention to resolve this situation which has become tragic and unsustainable. Such massacres cannot be committed against these poor people who come here with the hope that they can improve their life conditions."

 "Although we've been talking about it for years, this illegal exploitation has not yet been stamped out - if anything, it's thriving now more than ever. The mafia makes big money from it. I have several plans with which we are going to tackle this intolerable problem, one that should not exist in a country like Italy."