Monday, January 11, 2010

Not Quite Toscana

Economic realities are based on the exploitation of low-cost foreign labour, living in sub-human conditions without human rights.

What ugly evil regime is described in that first sentence?

Sorry to say that it is the lovely, sun-drenched buon giorno of Italy.

Millions of African workers pick that fresh fruit and vegetables everyone enjoys.

After weekend riots, thousands of these real human beings were jailed.

That may or may not be better living conditions than they already have in make-shift camps.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi's wife is looking for about $68 million in her divorce.


Anonymous said...

Thirty five years ago I rode 2500 miles on my old 3 speed bicycle to the Okanagan from Toronto to pick fruit. I lived in my pup tent.
I saved enough cash to be able to rent an apartment in Vancouver.
The problem with African laborers is themselves, that is why Africa is a basket case.

Jeff Taylor said...

I don't know, I'm kinda thinking that the fact they were / are able to enter another country (in this case, Italy) and work, that maybe they should count themselves lucky. If I was to leave my home country and go to another country to work, and I was finding things not to my liking, I'd probably leave for another country or return home, rather than trying to change that country.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get the point of the first commenter who advised that he was able to earn a decent wage in 1980 picking fruit in the OK valley...

I know plenty of middle aged professionals who picked berries or fruit in the late 1970's and early 1980's to pay for college and help cover living expenses....the thing is ... back then you could ACTUALLY DO THAT!!! One individual told me about earning over $800 in one month. In 1980, this was a lot of money!

Of course when there are labourers from third world countries to exploit - the farms can pay a lot less (and have substandard, dangerous vehicles to transport the foreign labourers in...).

The current system is rotten. Foreign workers on first world soil should be paid first world wages and have first world conditions to work and live.

My own grandparents immigrated to Canada in the 1950's. They were white, German immigrants coming from a place of relative poverty. They secured work as labourers (mostly cleaning sawmills in south Vancouver). They were not treated with the contempt that new immigrant foreign workers are treated and were paid a fair wage and, like everyone else in this decade, had access to affordable housing.

They eventually became full citizens of Canada, bought a home and retired with dignity after working, volunteering and raising their families here as proud CANADIANS.

I wonder if the new immigrants and workers will ever consider their new countries "home" as long as they are treated like third class citizens and paid peanuts (because, gosh darn, the place they come from was so much worse and they are only Africans afterall...

David Berner said...

Thank you for that last very thoughtful comment.

Workers must be paid real local wages and be given real protections and benefits.

You would think this might be obvious to most Canadians.

Anonymous said...

David ina perfect world.
Imigrants would make Canada their new home. In the real world many of these new Canadians work here and cut each others rates (as well as our rates) to take work away from one another. A large blueberry farm in Pitt Meadows brought in some workers from Mexico and they refused to work under the conditions at the farm.

Many of these new Canadians simply suck out social safety net dry then leave. Many have homes that they keep in their homeland and send money back instead of investing in Canada.

Trucking, Taxis, have been totally devestated by new Canadians .