The subcontracting is an increasingly widespread tool, in the world of agriculture in general and of wine in particular, especially for seasonal work, such as the grape harvest. Mostly managed by service cooperatives, known in jargon as “landless cooperatives”. A type of service that has positive aspects, but also many criticalities, although by now the majority of cooperatives operate at increasingly higher levels not only of the obvious respect for legality, but also of work ethic.
One of the big knots to be solved, however, is that of housing the workers of the cooperatives, given that, for years, punctually, in time of harvest, news and reports have been received on precarious conditions in this sense, if not, in extreme cases, of real tent cities. Because if many farms often provide accommodation in their own structures (and not only) for the labor directly employed by them, this is a rarity, again, for contracting companies. And, in this direction, however, an important signal arrives from one of the most important wine territories in Italy and in the world, that of the Langhe. The agreement, signed by the Consortium of Barolo and Barbaresco, and by all the agricultural organizations of the territory, from Confagricoltura to Coldiretti, from the Cia-Agricoltori Italiani to Confcooperative, provides, in fact, that the contracting cooperatives, upon signing contracts with wineries in view of the harvest, undertake to guarantee workers adequate accommodation conditions. Something that should seem more than obvious, but which obviously is not yet: “it is not the definitive solution to a problem, of course, but a first step in a path that we wanted to start and which will then obviously be monitored”, he explains to WineNews the president of the Consortium of Barolo and Barbaresco, Matteo Ascheri. An important initiative, which could lead to school in many other territories, and which, in fact, in some way, is like a sort of indirect “certification” of the virtuosity of a subcontracting cooperative.
“With this standard contract, organizations and farms want to ensure that all workers have housing, even though no one is required by law to provide one,” summarizes a joint note. “Parallel to the challenge of environmental sustainability, it is necessary for our sector to address the issue of labor protection”, declares Matteo Ascheri. “This agreement is an important first step to address the problems that can sometimes arise in the wine sector in crucial moments such as the grape harvest. The issue deserves a lot of attention and we are aware that this agreement represents the beginning of an articulated and necessary path “.
“The standard performance contract agreed between the professional organizations we have arrived at – says Fabiano Porcu, director of Coldiretti Cuneo – it is a tool of fundamental importance both for agricultural workers – seasonal and non – and for companies. It is an act of solidarity but also of civilization, a concrete step forward to support and facilitate agricultural enterprises and to protect the workers involved in the grape harvest “. “An instrument that is as important as necessary has finally been developed – says Igor Varrone, director of Cia Cuneo – the agreement on the standardization of the service contract can be a protection for companies and workers. Giving uniformity in the management of these contractual relationships qualifies the work of the wine chain, for which adherence to requirements shared by the sector becomes a distinctive element of reliability as well as an instrument of guarantee and integration “.
“Like Confcooperative Cuneo”, declares president Alessandro Durando, “The formalization of a shared service contract between companies and cooperatives is important to us. It is an agreement that protects the parties involved and defines a system approach that strengthens the work of recent years in the direction of creating a quality work chain in the wine sector. Of course, it will be necessary to constantly compare and monitor the signed agreement to stem the situations at risk of irregularities, specifically, for our world, the fight against the phenomenon of spurious cooperatives that give back, work in the vineyard and the world of cooperation, an image negative that penalizes us and the whole territory “. “Although the characteristics of work in the vineyard have led over the years to a stabilization of workers and their housing, the signing of a contract shared by all the Organizations highlights the sensitivity of the entire supply chain to the issues of sustainability and work ethics – comments Roberto Abellonio, director of Confagricoltura Cuneo – an agreement that confirms the attention of the Cuneo wine sector in terms of integration and protection of workers’ rights “. For organizations, commitment is fundamental, through bargaining and bilateralism. It is of fundamental importance that a productive fabric is based on ethical and organizational assumptions and that it guarantees the quality of processes and products, declaring the value of integration, education and socio-cultural promotion to be indispensable and the foundation of every strategy.