Giuseppe Pugliese is an activist at SOS Rosarno, a civil society organisation that fights against the exploitation of agricultural workers, mostly migrants, in Italy.
Rosarno is a small town in Calabria, southern Italy, in an area where citrus agriculture is the main economic activity. Migrant workers are essential to keep this economic sector afloat, but they generally live and work in very unfavourable and exploitative conditions, with no respect for their fundamental rights. The situation reached a critical point in January 2010, when migrant workers reacted against a series of violent episodes of racism, triggering further violent reactions by local thugs. The Rosarno riot brought to the fore the hardship experienced by agricultural migrant workers, but soon they were forgotten again. The situation of agricultural migrant workers has not changed. If Rosarno represents an emblematic place in the imaginary of Italian people, there are many other places in Italy (and Europe) where, despite their crucial contribution to economy, migrant agricultural workers see their human rights trampled. In this episode of Conversations with Iris, Giuseppe Pugliese speaks to Annavittoria Sarli (IRiS) about the structural reasons embedded in agriculture supply chain that produce exploitative working conditions for migrants and how SOS Rosarno is building an alternative model of agricultural work. Finally, Giuseppe comments on the debate on migrant regularisation in Italy and how Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dependence of Italian agricultural sector on the underpaid and undervalued work on migrant workers.
The conversation is in Italian with English subtitles.