The Patronato ACLI Belgium (Christian Associations of Italian Workers) was instituted in 1947 in order to support Italian workers in Belgium (mostly miners) helping them to defend their rights.
The history of Patronato ACLI Belgium
After the Second World War, Belgian government needed manpower for the extraction of coal in the mines; on the other hand Italy, defeated during the conflict, needed energetic resources for the reconstruction of the country, and the troubled post-war economy was suffering from very high unemployment level and scarcity of raw materials, first of all coal. Therefore, Italy and Belgium signed an agreement that led thousands of young unemployed Italians to Belgium to work as miners. This agreement was signed in 1946 and renamed “men for coal” because it envisaged a provision of coal to Italy in exchange of workforce.
Some years later, the 8th of August 1956, a tragic event took place when a fire started in a mine in Marcinelle: 262 miners (of which 136 were italians) died.
Nowadays this event is considered to be the biggest tragedy in Italian migration’s history and its memory should pose a warning for future generations about the importance of workers’ rights. In this context the Patronato ACLI Belgium played an important role because, since the beginning of its activities, it acted as interpreter of Italian workers’ help requests, for example about how to behave with the consulate and other local institutions.
The Patronato ACLI Belgium today
The Patronato ACLI Belgium offers a public utility service to the community: its main objective is provide everyday support to Italian expats about retirement, job, health, European citizenship, individual’s rights and duties.
The working agenda of Patronato ACLI takes care of the promotion of social rights and social security together with citizenship rights. The aim of the Patronato ACLI Belgio is to promote a greater individual awareness and participation in a supportive and cohesive social community.
At the time being, the Patronato ACLI Belgium is located in Brussels with its coordination office and three other bases in Charleroi, Seraing and Genk. Finally we guarantee various reception points, only some days per week, in the following towns: Auvelais, Beringen, Forchies-La-Marche, Herve, Jemappes, La Louvière, Liège, Maasmechelen, Tubize, Verviers, Waterschei and Zolder.
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