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Learn English from the news! Slavery in Italian wine - with audio

New words from the news story!

Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing some people to own, buy and sell other people. (People are treated like property)

sort (verb) to arrange things in groups or in a particular order according to their type, etc.; to separate things of one type from others
~ sort something

he is sorting the company mail

A middleman is a person who helps to arrange things between people who do not want to talk directly to each other.

the middleman buys from the factory and sells to the store

benefactor (noun) a person who gives money or other help to a person or an organization such as a school or charity

This wing of the museum is named after one of our generous benefactors

seize (verb) (seize something) to take illegal or stolen goods away from somebody
~ In the news story the government takes property and money from the middlemen

 ๐ŸŽงAudio here↓

 ๐ŸŽงAnd now here too!
Play the audio easily inside the post!

Slavery in Sorting Italian Grapes for Wine

No doubt, Italian wine is good. The story behind that bottle may not be so good. In fact, it's a tale of modern slavery.

The job is picking and sorting grapes. Women do it. Sometimes they do it for twelve hours a day.

Paola Clemente started her day at 1:50 a.m. She took a private bus to the vineyard. After twelve hours of work, her take-home pay was about $29. The middlemen who control the jobs take their money before it gets to the worker.

Workers, such as Ms. Clemente, would not and could not complain. The only way to get work was through the middlemen. They controlled the labor market. (The opportunity to work)

Paola Clemente died of a heart attack while working in the fields. She was 49. Her death started an investigation.

Two years later, the results of the investigation are in. Results of the inquiry showed how the system used poor women. Fear is the most important thing. An expert said, “It was a system of slaves."

Farm owners paid middlemen to pick up and take the women to the vineyard. Sometimes, the middlemen charged two-thirds of the women’s pay as the cost of the ride. The women are not paid for their time on the bus, which could be 5 hours!

If the women complained, the recruiter would threaten not to call them anymore. A recruiter told one worker, “Another woman can take your place.”

Several women said the middlemen were benefactors. They were lucky to have the work.

Italy passed a new law against underpaying workers. Breaking this law can lead to jail sentences and strong fines. It allows for the seizing of property and bank accounts. Is it working? Some middlemen went to jail. But real change is difficult and takes a long time.

Source: The New York Times April 11, 2017


In the news story we learned that "Italy passed a new law against underpaying workers." Below is a video I made explaining how we use over and under as prefixes.

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