BSI Analysis: Police Discover Eleven Farms Using Forced Labor in Ragusa, Underscoring Persistent Forced Labor and Working Conditions Risks in Italian Agricultural Sector
Italian police recently discovered eleven farms utilizing forced labor and demonstrating poor working conditions in the Ragusa region of Italy. Police uncovered the forced labor during routine labor checks in the cities of Vittoria, Santa Croce, Ispicia, and Acate. Authorities recently arrested three individuals in connection to these cases and are currently investigating nine more. The forced laborers were of various nationalities, including Romanians, Africans, Albanians, Pakistanis, Indians, and Italians. In nearly all of these incidents, employers paid the agricultural laborers 25 to 35 euros per day, well below Italy’s minimum wage, and forced laborers to work up to 13 hours straight. Police also found several other notable labor violations at the farms; for instance, authorities discovered agricultural warehouses functioning as housing facilities. Additionally, employers threatened to terminate employees if they told police about their working conditions and forced them to lie to authorities about their wages and work hours.
BSI has noted the persistent use of forced labor in Italy’s agricultural sector. Employers often utilize recruitment services that withhold wages from agricultural workers. Additionally, farms often force employees to pay additional costs for essential services including housing, transportation, medical care, and food. A recent media investigation examined agricultural forced labor particularly targeting Sikh workers trafficked to Lazio, Italy from the Punjab region of India. Recruitment agents promised to supply Sikh workers with plane tickets, travel documents, employment, and accommodations. However, on arrival in Italy, laborers were forced into debt bondage, and were paid particularly low wages in order to prolong labor obligations. The Sikh workers’ inability to speak Italian facilitated the labor exploitation.