Italy arrests 44 tied to Rome’s garbage mafia

Italian police arrested 44 people on Thursday accused of dealings with a powerful one-eyed mobster whose gang thrived on rigging Rome public contracts on everything from garbage disposal to park maintenance.

Italy arrests 44 tied to Rome's garbage mafia
Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino welcomed the arrests. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Officers cuffed local politicians from both the left and right, including regional councilor Luca Gramazio from Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, accused of serving as a go-between for corrupt businessmen and the mob.

The investigation, lead by Italy's anti-mafia police, also focused on 21 other suspects whose businesses or offices were being searched on Thursday.

The arrests were the second stage in a probe which saw one-eyed boss Massimo Carminati and 36 others, including a former mayor of Rome, arrested in December.

Police believe that as well as rigging contracts given out by municipal authorities, the mafia network also conspired to skim off cash from centres established to house asylum seekers and recently-arrived migrants.

The network, “by means of corrupt practices and collusion, assured itself numerous contracts and financing from the Lazio Region, the Rome municipality and associated businesses,” the police said in a statement.

The gang got its hooks into everything from Rome's recycling and garbage disposal, to maintenance of parks and cycling paths and bad weather response.

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino welcomed the arrests, saying “politics in the past gave a bad example, but today… we have honest people who want to restitute quality of life and all the rights and dignity the capital deserves.”

But the raid was immediately held up by the head of Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, as an example of the incompetence — or worse — of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

“Another 44 people arrested for the immigration business. Stop the departures and the boats immediately, stop the contracts right now!” he said on Facebook.

“It's nothing to do with being good-hearted, welcoming and supporting… they are thieves! Renzi and Alfano scatter illegal immigrants in the hotels of half of Italy, guess who gains?” he said.


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Mafia Capitale, altri 44 ARRESTI per il business degli IMMIGRATI.Fermare subito le partenze e gli sbarchi, bloccare…

Posted by Matteo Salvini on Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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Italy’s government blocks attempt to bring in minimum wage

Italy's ruling parties on Wednesday scuppered an attempt by the opposition to introduce a minimum wage, which would have brought the country into line with the majority of the EU.

Italy's government blocks attempt to bring in minimum wage

Members of parliament voted instead to give Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s hard-right government six months to enact measures to make pay in Italy “fairer”.

Opposition members shouted “for shame!” as the bill, which would have set a minimum wage of nine euros an hour before tax, was quashed.

READ ALSO: Why is Italy’s government opposed to the minimum wage?

“You are on the side of the exploiters, you slap the exploited in the face!” thundered Elly Schlein, head of the centre-left opposition Democratic Party.

Italy is one of five countries in the European Union where wages are determined solely by collective bargaining between employers and trade unions. The others are Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

The centre-left put forward its proposal aimed at ending “poverty wages” in July, but Meloni’s coalition insists it could make some workers worse off.

The government has proposed extending collective agreements to some 20 percent of workers not covered by existing agreements.

But many of them remain well below nine euros an hour, such as those for cleaning services (6.52 euros), catering (7.28) or tourism (7.48).

As tempers frayed in parliament, former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, head of the once anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), symbolically tore up a copy of the government’s bill, to the applause of opposition deputies.

Those who voted against the minimum wages “have turned their backs on 3.6 million workers”, he said.

But Meloni insisted that setting a minimum “paradoxically risks lowering wages, because 95 percent of workers have a higher hourly wage.”

“We risk an employer saying ‘if I can lower it to nine euros, why do I have to pay more?'”, she said on Wednesday.

The creation of a “decent salary” does not necessarily involve “setting a figure”, insisted Labour Minister Marina Elvira Calderone.

READ ALSO: Why Italy has no minimum wage

According to polls, 70 percent of Italians – including those who voted for the government’s coalition parties – are in favour of a minimum wage.

But some, including small traders, restaurant owners and farmers, are opposed to the minimum wage, which they consider too restrictive.

The unions are divided. The biggest, CGIL, said on Wednesday the government had “made a serious error” in opposing the minimum wage. But the other large union, CISL, is opposed to it because it worries it would reduce their powers over collective agreements.

According to the OECD, Italy is the only European country where real wages (excluding inflation) decreased between 1990 and 2020 (-2.9 percent). The EU brought in rules in November 2022 governing the minimum wage, but they are voluntary.