60 years of Italian workers in Belgium

23rd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 June 2006, BRUSSELS — Friday was the 60th anniversary of an agreement between Italy and Belgium aimed at allowing a regular flow of guest workers into Belgium.

23 June 2006

BRUSSELS — Friday was the 60th anniversary of an agreement between Italy and Belgium aimed at allowing a regular flow of guest workers into Belgium.

Some 2,000 Italians were to enter Belgium every week to primarily work in the mining industry, news service VRT reported.

Italy was in the depths of a great economic crisis in 1946 and the nation did not possess any coal, which was the only source of energy for industry.

The immigration agreement between Belgium and Italy was thus mutually beneficial.

Italy supplied guest workers and in return, Belgium sold cheap coal to Italy.

Between 1946 and 1956, some 77,000 Italian workers moved to Belgium.

The Belgian Coal Federation welcomed them with open arms because the Italians worked for lower wages and under poorer work conditions.

Housing was also abominable in the beginning.

A total of 136 Italians were killed in the 1956 mining disaster at Marcinelle. The flow of Italian workers to Belgium dried up after that.

Belgium then went in search for foreign workers elsewhere, first in Greece and Spain, later in Morocco and Turkey.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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