What was meant to be a party in the middle of the Castellinaldo d’Alba vineyards, province of Cuneo, ended up transforming into a 20-thousand-euros fine. Battista Battaglino, a 63-year-old retired man invited some friends, as he had always done before, to help him during the harvest. But the end turned out to be very different. “We were collecting grapes – tells Ada, one of Battista’s friends – laughing and making fun of each other because in those vineyards it is difficult to stand on your feet. At a given moment we were literally surrounded by police and officials of the labour inspectorate. They asked our documents and wrote a report of complaint for undeclared work”. Battaglino got a 19,500 euros fine, 3900 for each one of his 4 friends.
“We wanted to help Battista – continues the woman – instead, we damaged him a lot. It is customary in the countryside to help each other. We have always done it, without fear of becoming tax evaders, or worse, considered exploiters who make people work illegally. Battista works that piece of land alone, he is retired and spends his time there. When the grapes are ripe, he asks us to help him. It must be done quickly, otherwise the grapes rot and he cannot produce his good wine. This is why we were there, as we had been doing for years, depending on our own commitments”.
The elderly man has immediately received support and solidarity from his fellow villagers and the institutions. Here people help each other, says the mayor -, he works hard in those vineyards, on those hills. It is absurd that a man as Battista, who takes care of his land by himself, with great sacrifice, is pointed at as an evader. Those lands belonged to his father, vineyards that are 70-80-year old. He uses old, traditional methods. He does not even possess modern tools for growing and collecting, everything is done manually. It is crazy he should pay such a fine”.