Friday, February 05, 2016

Solidarity is win-win

According to 2015 Italian National Institute of Statisticsestimates, there are more than 138.000 Bangladeshi nationals legally residing in Italy – a 9 % increase compared to 2014. 75.6% of Bangladeshi workers in Italy are employed in the service sector. 23% of them are employed in the hotel, restaurant and catering sector. Additionally, more than 20.000 Bangladeshi entrepreneurs were registered as business owners in 2013.

There are two kinds of visas, one for agricultural workers and one for all the others. The former is quite easy to obtain and costs less, about € 8.000, while for the latter, the one I obtained, a sponsor residing in Italy is required and the cost is over € 12.000.

After China, Bangladesh is the second country of destination of remittances from Italy, amounting to €346.1 million in 2013 (7.9% of all remittances)

Restaurant worker Roni is just one of the many faces representing the migration crisis Italy is facing today. He earns more than €1000 per month, enough to send some money home, requiring over €400 per month for his own survival in Italy, he is able to send home between €400 and €600 per month. He is contracted for six hours of work each day, he works for 10 hours or more for the same wage, and, days of leave or sickness do not count as working days. Roni claims he is paid less than other workers with different nationalities. Although Roni’s terms of employment appeared to be better than those of other migrant workers, it nevertheless disregards many of the employment rights regarding remuneration, sick-leave, and weekly working hours outlined in the many directives set out by the EU Commission. With the weakest suffering the worst consequences of the crisis, from a policy perspective, there is no doubt that an integrated EU approach will be the only effective way to face the issue. This is especially true when attempting to ensure implementation and enforcement of the social welfare laws, human rights and labour rights laws.

 “I think government policies to protect workers are good”, he explained. “It is not a matter of policies, it is how they are implemented to make sure that laws are respected.” And continued “This is not only about bad bosses exploiting migrants”, said Roni, “we, as migrant workers have to stand up for our rights and stop accepting these humiliating conditions. As long as there is another migrant willing to accept unfair conditions, my attempts to fight for a better contract and for workers’ rights will be in vain.” Roni carried on by making an appeal to his own people: “let’s help each other and put our strengths together. Do not forget to help the newcomers… Solidarity will lead to a win-win situation and it is the only way to improve our condition.”

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