In August 1989, the Italian public debate on immigration was shocked by the murder of Jerry Essan Masslo, a Southafrican refugee shot dead in Villa Literno, while he was joining the tomato picking campaign along with many others foreign workers. After that Italy discovered itself as a country of immigration rather than a country of emigration: while social subjects lead a huge political and social mobilization focusing on the conditions of immigrants, trade unions worked on the improvement of their conditions and on the extension of social rights for all the interested workers. Mainly based on unpublished documents, oral testimonies and newspaper sources, the article describes the history of the Lavello agreements of 1989, three labor understandings signed by the Italian trade union Flai Cgil and a group of Southern Italian agricultural companies in order to promote the legal recruitment of foreign workers as tomato pickers. It was one of the first actions carried out by trade unionists to reduce the phenomenon of exploitation of foreign workers in agriculture.
Keywords: Immigration; Gangmaster system; Agricolture; Trade Union