Who we are
The Campagne in Lotta network was born with the aim of connecting workers of the Italian agro-industrial sector, mostly migrants, with single individuals and militant collectives. Our goal is that of getting to know and coordinate each other, in order to support processes of self-determination and self-organization that lead to the composition of struggles across different contexts.
Our project started in August 2011 from the intersection of two different experiences of struggle. On the one hand, the Assembly of African Workers from Rosarno (Assemblea dei Lavoratori Africani di Rosarno, ALAR), which was born in Rome after the well-known Rosarno riots of 2010. On the other, the similarly famous strike of migrant agricultural workers that took place in Nardo’ in August 2011. The struggles of Rosarno and Nardo’, as well as several others that took place previously, brought to light the extremely precarious working and living conditions that women and men working in agriculture have to endure, but also their willingness to fight and resist. Therefore, the Network was set up in order to break workers’ segregation, to support their claims to self-determination and to bring concrete solidarity on different levels – from legal assistance to the exchange of knowledge and information, from social relations to political debate and action. Today, the ‘Campagne in Lotta’ network is composed of precarious workers, foreigners and Italians, sometimes organized in collectives. Our project started in August 2011 and it intersects with other experiences of struggle -first of all, that of workers in the logistics sector – aiming towards a recomposition of all these struggles.
Over the years, the network undertook several actions in different regions, especially in Capitanata (Foggia Province) and in the Gioia Tauro Plain (Province of Reggio Calabria), two well known areas for the production of tomatoes and citrus, respectively. We also established connections in other areas, such as the region around Naples and Caserta, Saluzzo (Cuneo Province), the Vulture region (Province of Potenza), and the Sibari Plain (Province of Cosenza). This allowed us to set up strong relationships with some of the workers (who now have an active role in the network itself) and with other organized local realities, as well as to acquire a deeper knowledge of the mechanisms of production and exploitation that characterise the agro-industrial sector, endorsing the claims of those who are subjected to them. In these contexts, the lack of rights for workers is also associated with an extreme social and more broadly existential precarity (fostered by immigration laws and by other administrative mechanisms of segregation), which also sustains and is sustained by the exploitation of reproductive work. Most of the time, reproductive work is carried out by women, who are the ones in charge of satisfying workers’ primary needs, from food to the sexual sphere, in the big slums as well as in other, more or less informal settlements. Furthermore, those women who work in farms (mostly from Romania and Bulgaria) in many cases are forced to accept severe sexual harassment by their employers, which makes them exposed to a double, violent form of exploitation.
Within this frame, institutions and third-sector agencies work to contain, control and foster the precarious existence of migrant farm workers, especially those coming from Sub-Saharian Africa. For decades, an endemic segregation has been managed as if it were an ’emergency’: camps and tent cities were set up, investing large sums of public money and adding to already heavy forms of segregation and exploitation. On the other hand, the spectacularization of ‘black ghettoes’ in the medi, and their subsumption under the military-humanitarian machine overshadows the mass of workers coming from East Europe, much more numerous than the African workforce (which effectively functions as a reserve army of labour), who are subjected to similar, if not worse forms of precarity and exploitation. Those taking advantage from such neo-colonial and prison-like management of agricultural labour are Producers’ Organizations (O.P.), large processing industries and distribution chains, whilst all the burdens are dumped on workers and small local producers.
Given the plurality of forms of exploitation occurring in these contexts, over the last years we engaged in different kinds of struggle. Apart from the fight for labour rights, we focused both on the administrative level (right to residence permits, right to health care) and on housing, against ghettos and camps and the resulting segregation. We promote structural solutions which hold those who profit most from agro-industrial business responsible for seasonal workers’ housing and transport facilities. We believe that research and enquiry, together with new collaborations to expand the network on the local, national and international level, are the key features to compose and reinforce the struggle against global exploitation.