Dutch supermarkets commit to improve conditions for people working in Italy's tomato cultivation
There are serious human rights violations in tomato cultivation in Italy. There is a lot wrong with the production of canned tomatoes, which are also widely available in Dutch stores. This emerged from research initiated by trade union FNV and supermarket representative CBL, the results of which were announced on Thursday. Previously, international research also revealed abuses in tomato cultivation in Italy.
Seasonal workers, in particular, are exploited in Italy's tomato cultivation. This mainly concerns migrant workers who are exposed to forced labor, human trafficking, and exploitation by criminal organizations. The living conditions are also far below par, according to the report. The accommodations where the workers stay are poor, unsafe, and unsanitary. The shelter often consists of a tent or just a plastic sheet. Running water or electricity is only available in a few cases.
Tomato pickers work 8 to 12 consecutive hours without breaks. These employees also have to give up 50 percent of their daily wages to the organization that puts them to work. Their wages are far below the minimum wage, to begin with. The lack of written agreements also makes it more challenging to accuse employers of exploitation, according to the researchers.
FNV and CBL want to improve working conditions in Italian tomato cultivation. They also seek collaboration with other parties like governments, social organizations, and trade unions. Cooperation with manufacturers and A-brands is also essential to be able to take measures. Supermarkets will also prepare individual action plans this year.
As many as 5 million tomatoes are harvested in Italy every year. Almost 5 percent of canned Italian tomatoes are destined for the Dutch market.
Reporting by ANP