Italy: Carabinieri Labour Inspectors

Twenty-one billion dollars: that’s how much the victims of forced labour lost in wages and in fees paid to agencies last year worldwide, according to “The Cost of Coercion”, the ILO’s Global Report on the economic costs of coercive labour practices. And the plague of forced labour is going global, now becoming part of the fabric of even the wealthiest and most progressive societies.

Date issued: 12 May 2009 | Size/duration: 00:02:34 (8.86 MB)
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The Carabinieri command centre in Teramo, Italy, gets a call from a unit in the field: a report of suspicious activity at a darkened factory at the edge of a nearby town.

The Carabinieri surround the factory, waiting for the signal to go in.

Chinese workers here are sewing design jeans for the Italian fashion market. They start late in the afternoon and work until early hours of the morning in hot, filthy, noisy conditions.

Gianfranco Albanese, Caribinieri Command for the Protection of Labour

As you can see, the working space is limited and chaotic. Some of the Chinese workers that we found have been identified as irregular migrants. 

This isn’t just a factory. It’s also a home. These small children and babies were upstairs with heir nanny in a hidden bedroom. The workers’ families live, eat, and work here.

David Mancini, Public Prosecutor, Teramo Italy

It is so difficult, because first of all, it is very difficult to identify the victims. They are invisible. You can’t see them. You don’t realize these are victims.

Down on the factory floor, the carabinieri check if everyone has a valid passport and work permit.

Local health and safety inspectors are also present. They are part of a network approach that brings together inspectors, employers and workers organisations to ensure that victims of forced labour are protected. .

Tonight, three workers don’t have the proper document and are taken into custody for questioning. Under article 18 of Italian law if they are found to be victims of forced labour they could stay, and get the help and support they need to make a new life for themselves in Italy.

Roger Plant, Head of ILO special action programme to combat forced labour

Our new 2009 Global Report on forced labour draws the necessary attention to the opportunity cost of coercion for those migrants and other workers in forced labour situations

Forced labour isn’t limited only to isolated regions of developing countries.

Increasingly, forced labour is global, and demands a global response; not only to protect victims, but help those at risk understand and defend their rights.