Über die Lebens- und Arbeitsbedingungen migrantischer Erntehelfer auf den Orangeplantagen oder den Tomatenfeldern im Süden Italiens ist nicht zuletzt dank der Revolte der Migranten in Rosarno vor knapp zehn Jahren immer wieder berichtet worden. Weniger bekannt ist die Situation migrantischer Tabakpflücker, die in der Region Kampanien ohne Vertrag oder ausreichende Gesundheits- und Sicherheitsvorkehrungen zu einem Hungerlohn schuften. Über ein Drittel des italienischen Tabaks wird in diesem Gebiet angebaut. Abnehmer sind drei der weltgrößten Tabakhersteller – Philip Morris, British American Tobacco und Imperial Brands, die behaupten, nach strengen Verhaltensrichtlinien zu arbeiten, um die faire Behandlung der Arbeiter zu gewährleisten. Journalisten von The Guardian haben mit dort beschäftigten Migranten gesprochen, die anderes zu berichten wussten.

‚I had pain all over my body‘: Italy’s tainted tobacco industry

[…] The Guardian investigation into Italy’s tobacco industry, which spanned three years, is believed to be the first in Europe to examine the supply chain.

Italy’s tobacco market is dominated by the three multinational manufacturers, all of whom buy from local producers. According to an internal report by the farmers’ organisation ONT Italia, seen by the Guardian and confirmed by a document from the European Leaf Tobacco Interbranch, the companies bought three-fifths of Italian tobacco in 2017. Philip Morris alone purchased 21,000 tons of the 50,000 tons harvested that year.

The multinationals all said they buy from suppliers who operate under a strict code of conduct to ensure fair treatment of workers. Philip Morris said it had not come across any abuse. Imperial and British American said they would investigate any complaints brought to their attention.

Italy is the EU’s leading tobacco producer. In 2017, the industry was worth €149m (£131m). […]

The interviewees said they had no employment contracts, were paid wages below legal standards, and had to work up to 12 work hours a day. They also said they had no access to clean water, and suffered verbal abuse and racial discrimination from bosses. Two interviewees were underage and employed in hazardous work.

Didier, born and raised in Ivory Coast, arrived in Italy via Libya. He recently turned 18, but was 17 when, last spring, a tobacco grower in Capua Vetere, near the city of Caserta, offered him work in his fields. “I woke up at 4am. We started at 6am,” he said. “The work was exhausting. It was really hot inside the greenhouse and we had no contracts.”

Alex, from Ghana, another minor who worked in the same area, said he was forced to work 10 to 12 hours a day. “If you are tired or not, you are supposed to work”, otherwise “you lose your job”.

Workers complained of having to work without a break until lunchtime. […]

The Guardian found African workers who were paid €3 an hour, while Albanians, Romanians or Italians, were paid almost double.

“I worked with Albanians. They paid the Albanians €50 a day,” (€5 an hour), says Didier. “They paid me €3 per hour. That’s why I asked them for a raise. But when I did, they never called back.”

Tammaro Della Corte, leader of the General Confederation of Italian Workers labour union in Caserta, said: “Unfortunately, the reality of the work conditions in the agricultural sector in the province of Caserta, including the tobacco industry, is marked by a deep labour exploitation, low wages, illegal contracts and an impressive presence of the caporalato [illegal hiring], including extortion and blackmailing of the workers.

“We speak to thousands of workers who work in extreme conditions, the majority of whom are immigrants from eastern Europe, north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. A large part of the entire supply chain of the tobacco sector is marked by extreme and alarming working conditions.” […]

Between 405,000 and 500,000 migrants work in Italy’s agricultural sector, about half the total workforce. According to the Placido Rizzotto Observatory, which investigates worker conditions in the agricultural sector, 80% of those working without contracts are migrants.

Multinational tobacco companies have invested billions of euros in the industry in Italy. Philip Morris alone has invested €1bn over the past five years and has investment plans on the same scale for the next two years. In 2016, the company invested €500m to open a factory near Bologna to manufacture smokeless cigarettes. A year later, another €500m investment was announced to expand production capacity at the factory.

British American Tobacco declared investments in Italy of €1bn between 2015 and 2019.

Companies have signed agreements with the agriculture ministry and farmers’ associations.

Since 2011, Philip Morris, which buys the majority of tobacco in Campania, has signed agreements to purchase tobacco directly from ONT Italia.

Philip Morris buys roughly 70% of the Burley tobacco variety produced in Campania. Approximately 900 farmers work for companies who supply to Philip Morris.

In 2018, Burley and Virginia Bright varieties constituted 90% of Italian tobacco production. About 15,000 tons of the 16,000 tons of Italian Burley are harvested in Campania.

In 2015, Philip Morris signed a deal with Coldiretti, the main association of entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, to buy 21,000 tons of tobacco a year from Italian farmers, by investing €500m, until 2020. […]

Steps have been taken to improve workers’ conditions in the tobacco industry.

A deal agreed last year between the Organizzazione Interprofessionale Tabacco Italia (OITI), a farmers’ organisation, and the ministry of agriculture resulted in the introduction of a code of practice in the tobacco industry, including protecting the health of workers, and a national strategy to reduce the environmental impact.

But last year, the OITI was forced to acknowledge that “workplace abuses often have systemic causes” and that “long-term solutions to address these issues require the serious and lasting commitment of all the players in the supply chain, together with that of the government and other parties involved”.

Despite the code, the migrants interviewed reported no change in their working conditions. […]

The Guardian | 31.05.2019

Eine gekürzte deutsce Übersetzung dieser Reportage hat derFreitag in der Ausgabe 27/2019 veröffentlicht:

Der Geschmack der Freiheit

Italien Afrikanische Migranten ernten Tabak zu einem Hungerlohn, unter unwürdigen Bedingungen. Alles okay, sagen die Konzerne […]

derFreitag | 04.07.2019


Italien: „Der Geschmack der Freiheit“