Indian workers are not allowed to complain. They were given leftover food to eat, which their owners used to throw in the dustbin.
The condition of Indian laborers in Italy is bad (Photo Credits : Twitter- AFP)
Balbir Singh, an Indian farm laborer describing his experience, uses the Italian word ‘macello’, which largely means ‘disorder’ but the term refers to a migrant Indian farm laborer (Indian Farm). What has the worker suffered? For six years, Balbir Singh lived a slave-like life in the Latina province. The Latina province is a rural area south of Rome that is home to thousands of Indian migrant workers like him.
Talking to news agency AFP, Balbir Singh said, ‘I used to work 12-13 hours a day, including Sunday, in which there was no holiday and no rest. He said the farm owner paid him 100 to 150 euros ($120 to $175) a month, which is less than 50 cents an hour. The legal minimum amount for agricultural workers is 10 euros per hour.
forced to eat thrown food
Balbir Singh was rescued after a police raid on 17 March 2017 after appealing to local Indian community leaders and Italian rights activists for help via Facebook and WhatsApp. Authorities found him living in a caravan with no gas, hot water or electricity, and forced to eat leftover food that his owner had thrown in the garbage or given to chickens and pigs. He used to use the toilet of the stables and was not allowed to complain.
Many times beating and death threats received
He said, ‘When I found a lawyer who was ready to help me, the owner told me that he would kill me and bury me in the ground. He had a gun, which I saw. Singh said he was beaten up several times and his identity cards were taken away. His former boss is now facing labor exploitation charges while Singh is staying at a secret location.
The United Nations estimated in 2018 that more than 400,000 farm workers in Italy were at risk of exploitation and that around 100,000 could face “inhumane conditions”. Sociologist Marco Omizzolo, the human rights activist who helped liberate Singh, says between 25,000 and 30,000 Indians, mostly Sikhs from the Punjab region, live in Agro Pontino.
Instead of 28 days, you get only four days’ salary
Under an illegal but well-established system, the workers remain under the control of ‘caporali’, gangmasters who recruit farm laborers on behalf of the landowners. Usually they are offered on contract but then paid for only a portion of their work. Omizolo said that you will work for 28 days but he will only mark four on your salary slip and at the end of the month you can get only 200, 300 euros.
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