Salvini and Conte to crack down on illegal labour market

FOGGIA - The prime minister and vice-premier attended meetings in Foggia, Puglia, to follow investigations into farm labourers’ working rights, and the illegality behind the sector in Italy, government officials confirm.

After the shocking series of road collisions this week where the lives of 16 illegal farm workers were lost, both Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Salvini have been in Foggia to crack down on the mistreatment of illegal workers. On Monday, the public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into this sector.

Conte, fresh from parliament where his dignity decree had just been passed, attended a meeting with a delegation of agricultural labourers and a delegation of trade union representatives and authorities at the Foggia prefecture.

"Behind these deaths there are stories of exploitation, lives stripped of all dignity. We have to bring an end to this," stated Conte after the meeting. “We’ve got to start at the root and incentivise farm employers to prioritise good working conditions over profit.”

The prime minister insisted that labourer’s rights in Italy would from now on be prioritised: "The ‘dignity’ concept is about just this – placing the dignity of the lives of workers at the heart of the government.”

"Work and dignity are two inseparable and symbiotic concepts.”

The Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, was also in Foggia where he chaired the committee meeting for public order and security.

At the meeting Salvini said to the migrant representatives who were present "let's help each other."

After the official photographs were taken of Salvini and the migrants together, the vice-premier added: "If Italian agriculture was not forced to keep up with the unfair competition of other producers, we would not be pushed into illegality. In other words, if Europe was not forced to lower prices to those of Tunisian tomatoes, Moroccan oranges or Canadian wheat, the lives of our farmers would be much easier.”

Salvini also promised a crack-down on illegal transport, as the labourer’s bus carrying the migrant victims was an uninsured Bulgarian vehicle. “I will write to colleagues at the Interior Ministries of Romania and Bulgaria to demand that they follow EU regulation and keep their vehicles and drivers in check. The goal is to suffocate the underworld of illegal labour transport and to increase transparency.”

“Illegal immigration is a gold-mine for the mafia, as these are vulnerable people who are easy to exploit. This government prioritises fighting the mafia.”

Also today in Foggia was the labourer’s red beret march, where farm labourers went on strike to mourn the immigrant victims of Saturday and Monday’s tragedies. Banners with the slogans “No more deaths at work” and “No to slavery” were carried as workers protested for their working rights.