Tomatoes account for a quarter of the German vegetable diet, canned or fresh, as a sauce, topping, salad or decoration.
Few European and German wholesalers dictate the prices and cultivation conditions. Especially in summer European laws "protect" the local market from other continents' imports – which is often a relevant and, until recently, a reasonably lucrative economy. This happens in favor of the European producing countries, mainly Italy and Spain. There in turn the working conditions can be made even cheaper these days.
The vast, remote plantations in southern Italy are difficult to control, and so the laws against exploitation, albeit existing, do not actually work. It is mostly refugee and migrant day workers who live in tent-ghettos with lack of sanitary facilities, without protection against damp or cold and hardly any connection to the outside world. They work as harvesters without contract or any other social security. The European tomato market: reinforcing inhuman living conditions in Europe and weakening an African industry at the same time. Two for the price of one.
Who receives the money?
The money goes to the organization NO CAP, founded by Jean Pierre Yvan Sagnet in 2011, which works for the rights of workers in tomato growing in southern Italy and, in particular, combats the Caporali system. These so-called job mediators supply the large tomato plantations with their workforce, which consists primarily of refugees and migrants who are forced to work under inhumane conditions. In 2011, Sagnet organizes the first big strike, which has since made him the target of Caporali and the Mafia. Nevertheless, NO CAP continues to work to enforce the laws designed to protect workers from exploitation.
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