For several
weeks now, scores of migrants have been arriving in Cassibile for the potato
harvest. In the next couple of days, like every year, the figure will be in the
hundreds. In order to provide “accommodation”, the same organization
as last year, CRI is setting up a
huge campsite which will take 120 to 150 migrants. And also this year, it will
be built right next to the motorway exit, on an area which has been leveled off
and had trees cut down. To get to the town of Cassibile, the migrants must cross two
motorway slip roads and continue for over a kilometre, thereby posing great
risk to their safety, especially during the evenings. What is important,
however, is the fact that they are super- exploited, work in silence and they keep their heads down in the town. The
vast majority of migrants who will not find a place in the campsite, will have
to look after themselves, sleeping rough in abandoned buildings, without
running water or electricity and living mainly off potatoes.
Every year they
wait until the last moment to start providing reception. It is always under the
category of emergency and only for approximately a hundred “regular”
migrants. Yet the claims of “regularity” are valid only for the offer
of a place to sleep and do not extend to the guarantee of a contract or
workers’ rights. It is dramatic that this repeats itself every year on soil,
where 44 years ago, workers fought a heroic battle to overcome the minimum wage
trap and illegal hiring on a national level. The vast majority of migrants who
come to Cassibile are regular and have a permit of stay: there are refugees;
those waiting for their papers to be renewed; those recently made unemployed;
asylum seekers. Yet if they are not able to find regular work, they are pushed towards
irregular jobs and run the risk of losing their permit of stay thanks to
shameful racist laws, like that of Bossi- Fini and the pacchetto sicurezza (security package).

The last ten
days have seen successive night patrols by the local carabinieri, which often
end in violence as a result of damage caused by the migrants and protests about
“trespassing on land and damage to buildings”. Of course, the state
must show its strength against the weak, it’s just a shame they are nearly
always weak with those in a position of strength.

-Why aren’t there tight controls for those who carry out illegal hiring?

-Why is the European Directive (n.52 del 18/6/’09 ) which provides a permit of stay to those who denounce those who exploit
illegal hiring not applied?

-Why are those without a
permit of stay constantly a target- made out to be criminals- when there are so
many organizations which avoid paying taxes and increase the number of illegal

-Why aren’t the companies that
buy and sell potatoes from France,
Egypt and Israel
(preserved using illegal anti- germination products) and then sold on as local produce, identified and persecuted?

The principle of an “equal salary for equal
” has to become the onus of all Anti- Racist organizations and the
conflictual trade unionism, or the ethnic differentiation of wages (this year
they oscillate between €30 and €40 a day) could trigger fratricide amongst the
poor, pitting Italian workers and migrants against each other. And there are
even wage differences among the migrant groups themselves, all of which is made
worse by the on-going economic crisis. What happened at Nardò last summer shows
that the migrants know how to organise themselves and fight for their rights
when working in the countryside. (The events in Nardò also had the support of
the Anti-Racist Organizations). We adhere to the “Sign up against illegal
” campaign, which was fostered last year by the Brigate di Solidarietà within Nardò itself. It campaigned for the
promotion of the “protection of migrants’ rights” and relaunched the
appeal to GAS (Gruppi di Acquisti Solidale- Groups for Fair Trade Purchases),
GAP and to consumer groups supporting the campaign for the purchasing of
potatoes produced without exploitation
, by companies who also give their employees
fair working conditions.

Ct 9/4/2012 Rete Antirazzista Catanese via
Caltanissetta 4