Rome, October 18 - The House on Tuesday approved a bill to combat gangmastering and the exploitation of immigrant day laborers in near-slavery conditions in Italy's farms and vineyards, making it into law. The motion passed with 336 in favor, none against and 25 abstaining. The latter were from Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia (FI) party and the rightwing populist anti-immigrant Northern League party. Farm Minister Maurizio Martina, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando and Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti were present in the chamber at the time of the vote. "The State has given a clear and united response with this new law, which has been awaited at least five years," said Martina. "A lot of work remains to be done and a law isn't enough on its own... we must work in a united way so there will never again be slaves in the fields". Orlando hailed "a great day for labor, the protection of rights and of the weakest". "Today we reached an objective which has always characterized leftist battles - that of the dignity of workers and of those who are the most exposed to the most hateful forms of exploitation," the justice minister said. Unions in August hailed the Senate approval of the bill. "The Senate has taken a great step forward to render justice to the many farm workers, both women and men, who submit to exploitation, blackmail, wages of three euros an hour, working up to 13 hours a day, precarious lodgings and no services," CGIL union said at the time.
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