Italy adopts the first National Plan to tackle labour exploitation in agriculture

Developed with the technical support from the International Labour Organization and the European Commission, the Plan consists of a strategy to operationalize the national policy to prevent and tackle labour exploitation, illegal recruitment and forced labour in agriculture.

Press release | 11 March 2020
ROME (ILO News) — Exploitative working conditions affect many seasonal workers in the agriculture sector in Italy. These include the violation of the condition set forth by labour law, collective agreements and the labour contract, under-payment or withholding of wages, lack of compliance with occupational safety and health provisions and excessive hours of work. In the most severe abuses, workers report to be imposed inadequate and inhumane working and living conditions and to be charged for transport, meals and accommodation by the intermediary (or gang-master) or the employer.

With the aim to prevent and tackle labour exploitation, on 20 February, the Inter-Institutional Committee on labour exploitation adopted the first-ever National Action Plan to tackle labour exploitation in agriculture. The Committee is co-chaired by the Ministers of Labour and Social Policies and of Agriculture and composed of several national and local institutions, representatives of the social partners and civil society organizations, the first-ever national plan.

The Plan represents an important shift towards a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach and is structured around four strategic pillars (prevention, protection, enforcement and remedies) that are operationalized through ten priority actions and include both immediate measures and long-term interventions. It takes into account all the dimensions of labour exploitation in agriculture by fostering the efficiency and organization of the supply chains of the agro-food industry, promoting decent work and economic and social sustainability of enterprises, strengthening the effectiveness and transparency of labour intermediation, improving labour law enforcement and compliance, protecting and assisting victims, including through measures for their socio-economic inclusion. The Plan engages several public and private actors through a multi-level and multi-partner governance arrangement that leverages human and financial resources from the national and local levels, as well as from the public and private sectors, for the in the implementation of these priority measures.

The Plan was developed as a result of the jointly-funded project by the European Commission and the International Labour Office “Support for strengthening inter-institutional governance in relation to labour exploitation in Italy” that is co-funded by the Structural Reform Support Programme (2017-2020) of European Union. Following the implementation of the first component that led to the finalization of the Plan, technical support will be provided in the coming months for its rollout. In this context, the ILO — in collaboration with the EC — will provide technical support for: (i) establishing a management and information system that pulls together the data and information available from different sources, (ii) strengthening the implementation and monitoring capacity of national and local institutions; (iii) setting up a national referral system for the identification, assistance and protection, and socio-economic inclusion of victims through decent work opportunities; (iv) improving the effectiveness and transparency of labour intermediation in agriculture; and the (v) promoting ethical trade initiatives.