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Sancho Panza

Recession-Hit Italians Return To Work In Vineyards For Harvest

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Yahoo/AFP 22/9/13

'Hard-up Italians have increasingly taken the place of immigrant seasonal labourers in the vineyards this harvest season -- and a new pilot project plans to increase the number even further.

In Oltrepo-Pavese, a wine region in northern Italy, the farmers' union Coldiretti has launched an initiative called the "Harvest of Solidarity".

The plan is to match up supply and demand for vineyard workers in the surrounding area and to create a base of local seasonal labourers who can be hired by farmers when needed.

Davide Stocco, 38, owner of a 10-hectare (25-acre) vineyard near Pavia, said he used the new Coldiretti system when three of the seven labourers he hired cancelled at the last minute.

Unlike previous years, when Stocco hired mostly immigrants for the grape harvest, this year it is mostly Italians -- many of them young and permanently unemployed.

Daris, 25, who studied for a job in hotels but has not managed to find one yet, said he might stay in farmwork.

"Why not? I like it here," he said.

"In Italy, there is a real crisis. There are not a lot of jobs. You have to be happy with what you have," he said.

Marinella, at 51 the oldest in the group, said she had lost her job when her company shut down a few years ago.

"At the moment there are not a lot of job opportunities and I'm not 20 any more and so I'm still looking. In the meantime, I am doing this," she said.

"When you have a fixed job, you never imagine that one day you will find yourself doing the harvest," she said.

"But when you don't any more...."

For farmers, it works out cheaper to hire local hands than immigrant labour since they do not have to offer lodging.

A grape picker gets paid up to 1,300 euros ($1,750) a month gross.

Stocco pointed out there was also no language problem when hiring Italians.

Launched this summer, the project has proved a victim of its own success.

About 200 people applied for jobs in the harvest season but only around 50 of them were found jobs by organisers.

"Italians used to be reticent about doing this kind of work," Milani said.

"But now their perceptions are changing a bit, especially young people.".

Edited by Sancho Panza

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Can't see too many young Brits trying to replace the foreign potato-pickers etc while the welfare teat continues to flow.

That kind of thing is very hard work, I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to either, and I don't see why they should feel guilty when they've been betrayed so thoroughly by the older generation.

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I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to either

And who would in all honesty ?. NOONE wakes up and thinks to themselves, you know what I fancy a days graft in the fields because I'm just a hard working son-of-a-bitch. People only ever do this kind of work if they are desperate no matter where they are from.

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Guest unfunded_liability

And who would in all honesty ?. NOONE wakes up and thinks to themselves, you know what I fancy a days graft in the fields because I'm just a hard working son-of-a-bitch. People only ever do this kind of work if they are desperate no matter where they are from.

Not necessarily. I work on an organic urban farm and my own vegetable garden, and enjoy spending several hours on weekends digging, planting, weeding etc. I hope to one day make a living out of it.

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And who would in all honesty ?. NOONE wakes up and thinks to themselves, you know what I fancy a days graft in the fields because I'm just a hard working son-of-a-bitch. People only ever do this kind of work if they are desperate no matter where they are from.

Oh don't be silly. I know a number of people who do this, and enjoy it - and it's not just a UK thing. It's good honest work you can feel good about, and point to a tangible end result. People do alternatives for two reasons: (1) they're lazy (2) the alternative pays better. I'm lucky, I'm in camp 2, but I've been without work before, I'm sure I will be again, and I've historically wound up under the sun with soft fruits when that happens. It's something to do with the day, how people survive the monotony of idleness is beyond me.

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And who would in all honesty ?. NOONE wakes up and thinks to themselves, you know what I fancy a days graft in the fields because I'm just a hard working son-of-a-bitch. People only ever do this kind of work if they are desperate no matter where they are from.

Some people like to be outdoor away from a stuffy desk, a stack of paperwork and petty office politics.

Work as a farm hand is relatively stress free (or at least different from an office) and you won't have to try and fit a session or two in down the gym.

Given a choice between farm hand and a down to mac D's, my preference would probably be the farm hand most of the time, possibly less so as I get older.

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And who would in all honesty ?. NOONE wakes up and thinks to themselves, you know what I fancy a days graft in the fields because I'm just a hard working son-of-a-bitch. People only ever do this kind of work if they are desperate no matter where they are from.

Back in the eighties you could work your way around Europe. Sell doughnuts on the beach in South of France till September then pick grapes. If memory serves me correctly, you could pick grapes in Germany into October.

I didn't get around to doing the grape picking bit as my girlfriend got homesick but I met plenty of young Brits who had done it and seemed to think it was preferable to being on the dole back home.

Hard work certainly, but it sounded like fun.

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Guest eight

Daris, 25, who studied for a job in hotels but has not managed to find one yet, said he might stay in farmwork.

"Why not? I like it here," he said.

I can't believe there's a single job in a hotel that requires more than 1/2 day's training.

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A grape picker gets paid up to 1,300 euros ($1,750) a month gross.

£6.70 x say 40 hours = £268 a week or £1161 a month pro rata before tax. You can see the problem in thinking this will catch on here with UK locals without serious deflation in living costs.

Edited by PopGun

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£6.70 x say 40 hours = £268 a week or £1161 a month pro rata before tax. You can see the problem in thinking this will catch on here with UK locals without serious deflation in living costs.

The same would be true of Italy if they didn't all live with Mum and Dad!

(deliberate exaggeration but you see the point)

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Not necessarily. I work on an organic urban farm and my own vegetable garden, and enjoy spending several hours on weekends digging, planting, weeding etc. I hope to one day make a living out of it.

Aye, if work is guaranteed hours, so you're better off than dole it's an ok job. It would have to be local mind you, due to inability to move, or transport costs negligible, or transport provided by the employer.

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£6.70 x say 40 hours = £268 a week or £1161 a month pro rata before tax. You can see the problem in thinking this will catch on here with UK locals without serious deflation in living costs. with punative levels of taxation and benefit withdrawal.

The true answer.

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£6.70 x say 40 hours = £268 a week or £1161 a month pro rata before tax. You can see the problem in thinking this will catch on here with UK locals without serious deflation in living costs.

Umm... no?

That gives you a take home of £1024 monthly. Which pays for a flatshare, a reasonable social life, and savings varying on how reasonable your life is. Live with family, and you're quids in.

As of 2007, 1.7m workers, making up 8% of the workforce, were on NMW jobs. This proposal is above that. The problem with it is seasonality and needing to find alternative work in non-agricultural months, not the wage.

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Umm... no?

That gives you a take home of £1024 monthly. Which pays for a flatshare, a reasonable social life, and savings varying on how reasonable your life is. Live with family, and you're quids in.

As of 2007, 1.7m workers, making up 8% of the workforce, were on NMW jobs. This proposal is above that. The problem with it is seasonality and needing to find alternative work in non-agricultural months, not the wage.

Err there certainly is an issue with the pay.

It only works if as you say you flatshare or live with family. There is no possibility of building a long term future on that wage, and I'd think that if you did it for any length of time then employers in higher paying industries would certainly be reticent to take you on. They'd view you as a manual labourer, with little to no useful skills from their point of view.

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Err there certainly is an issue with the pay.

It only works if as you say you flatshare or live with family. There is no possibility of building a long term future on that wage, and I'd think that if you did it for any length of time then employers in higher paying industries would certainly be reticent to take you on. They'd view you as a manual labourer, with little to no useful skills from their point of view.

Beat me to it.

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with punative levels of taxation and benefit withdrawal.

The true answer.

Umm... no?

That gives you a take home of £1024 monthly.

Well at least one of you is wrong here then.

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Err there certainly is an issue with the pay.

It only works if as you say you flatshare or live with family. There is no possibility of building a long term future on that wage, and I'd think that if you did it for any length of time then employers in higher paying industries would certainly be reticent to take you on. They'd view you as a manual labourer, with little to no useful skills from their point of view.

Therein lies the crux of the argument.

If it comes down to a choice between being able to do whatever you want on the dole, and being a minium-wage manual worker with no hope of advancement and no Housing Benefit etc, the majority of Brits are going to choose the first option, and who can blame them?

To quote 'Fight Club' from memory, this is the generation who was brought up to believe they would be film stars and rock gods. Or, if not that exactly, then 'white collar professionals' with a degree, working in a fancy glassy office and drinking mineral water from a machine, living in a Barrett home on a nice estate.

Not grubbing for potatoes on a field in Lincolnshire in the pouring rain and living in a caravan.

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Err there certainly is an issue with the pay.

It only works if as you say you flatshare or live with family. There is no possibility of building a long term future on that wage, and I'd think that if you did it for any length of time then employers in higher paying industries would certainly be reticent to take you on. They'd view you as a manual labourer, with little to no useful skills from their point of view.

...and how do you think employers view people who've spent a few years on the couch with the playstation? At least going out and doing something shows willingness. For those who can't afford to volunteer and keep their skills in indefinitely, relatively manual labour keeps a roof over your head while keeping you in touch with a work ethic.

Unless you have a magic wand to wave to bring housing down to an affordable level, lots of people have no choice but to flatshare - in a huge variety of lifestyles, from students to underpaid young professionals to unemployed to manual labourers - isn't riling against the high cost of housing what brings the average person here, rather than whinging they're not being paid enough for a castle?

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manual labour keeps a roof over your head

Not sure it does anymore. If you are in the lowest-paid 25% of the workforce, it's the government that keeps a roof over your head, and you just do what the government wants.

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...and how do you think employers view people who've spent a few years on the couch with the playstation? At least going out and doing something shows willingness. For those who can't afford to volunteer and keep their skills in indefinitely, relatively manual labour keeps a roof over your head while keeping you in touch with a work ethic.

Unless you have a magic wand to wave to bring housing down to an affordable level, lots of people have no choice but to flatshare - in a huge variety of lifestyles, from students to underpaid young professionals to unemployed to manual labourers - isn't riling against the high cost of housing what brings the average person here, rather than whinging they're not being paid enough for a castle?

Even if housing was cheap do you really think that such a wage would ever offer the hope of a long term semi-decent future?

And yes if you spend a decade on the couch higher paying employers are going to look at you askance. But they are also going to do that if you spend a couple years picking potato's.

So if it's a choice between a crappy life picking potato's on NMW, and a crappy life with 100% free time you will choose the latter. Either we offer a better life to those doing these hard backbreaking jobs, so UK citizens want to do them, or we try and force/coerce people to do them - if we want them done by UK citizens.

The problem with the force/coercion way however is that it hardly ever works, and tends not to work out well even if it does work. So realistically if we want these jobs done by UK citizens we need to find a way to offer those who do these jobs a better future.

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The same would be true of Italy if they didn't all live with Mum and Dad!

(deliberate exaggeration but you see the point)

No exaggeration, it's the sad truth. I even stopped talking to my Italian friends until I see Mr B. public decapitation in Piazza Navona.

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