On Wednesday, the Italian government decided to temporarily regularise illegal migrants working in the agricultural sector or as domestic helpers, to control the black market and allow them health coverage in face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have reached an important result… in the fight against crime and in putting an end to the black market in jobs,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stated, adding that the migrant workers will be guaranteed “an adequate level of health care” in the face of “this exceptional health crisis”.
Every summer, thousands of African workers, as well as Bulgarians and Romanians, come to Italy to harvest fruit and vegetables. They are often poorly paid for long hours and housed in unsanitary camps. Many are exploited by organised crime groups.
Those benefiting from the new scheme will have to prove that they have experience working in the agricultural or domestic sectors.
The government decree also calls for urgent measures to guarantee the security and cleanliness of the workers’ accommodation.
A number of NGOs and political parties — including Oxfam Italy and church organisations — called the move “an important first step… towards recognising the rights and defence of the dignity of hundreds of thousands of foreigners present in Italy."