Grafica Veneta president slams 'defamatory campaign'

Jo Francis
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The boss of Grafica Veneta has spoken out after the company and its employees were the subject of intimidating messages online, including “threats of injury or death”.

The huge Grafica Veneta factory in Padua, near Venice
The huge Grafica Veneta factory in Padua, near Venice

Last month, the well-known Italian book printer was raided as part of a police investigation into alleged gangmaster activities by a supplier of agency workers, BM Services.

In a statement, Grafica Veneta president Fabio Franceschi said the business had “always been against any form of exploitation”, and described the threats against the company and its management as “very serious”.

"I am compelled to denounce the unprecedented defamatory campaign against Grafica Veneta and its top management. Although the judicial case is still in an investigative phase, we are already overwhelmed by public and media judgements. Such behaviors are not worthy of a state that wants to declare itself 'of law' and that constitutionally guarantees the presumption of innocence until a final judgment,” he said. 

Franceschi said that the business “has been and will always be a company that rejects any penalization or exploitation of all workers”.

“We are convinced that this will be demonstrated in court, highlighting the transparency of the work of the people involved and all employees of the company. And, possibly, condemning those who, external to Grafica Veneta, have committed similar shameful crimes. To all the people who have suffered the impairment of their humanity, even before their professionalism, I address my heartfelt solidarity,” he stated. 

Franceschi also found himself under fire from some people on social media, regarding comments he made in 2018 citing the difficulty in recruiting young people into the business because they don’t want to work shifts, with commenters contrasting this with the apparent wages paid by BM Services. 

Grafica Veneta also shared a post on behalf of its employees on its Instagram page, that carried the hashtag #iosonograficaveneta [#IamGraficaveneta], and said: “Proud to work in a company where human values ​​are respected. Honored to share every day the editorial projects and services produced for the cultural growth of communities around the world.”

Franceschi said he believed the company would be vindicated by the investigation. He has also previously said that BM Services' contract with Grafica Veneta "represents a very small part" of BM's total activity in the Italian print sector. 

“I will never accept a summary trial, in public square, and a pillorying of such dimensions on an affair that, I am sure, being soon clarified will see Grafica Veneta and all its people extraneous to any hypothesis of crime,” he said.

“I will not allow anyone to question decades of work done by the over 600 people in my group that I consider as a big family. A work that has always been characterised by clarity, honesty and transparency. But above all, constantly aimed at the development of our community of reference, which we hope will not turn its back on us in the face of such violent attacks.”

BM Services, based in Trentino, specialises in packaging and finishing services of publishing products for third parties. It is run by two Pakistani citizens and is alleged to have exploited Pakistani workers by paying them €4.50 (£3.85) per hour for a 12-hour shift, with workers who rebelled against the system “kidnapped, robbed of documents and cell phones and brutally beaten” according to Italian media reports. 

BM Services had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. 

An industry source told Printweek that two Italian publishers had sent in audit teams to check the situation at Grafica Veneta. 

The business prints for a number of UK publishers, and its recent work included English and Irish dictionaries for Collins, part of the giant HarperCollins publishing group. 

Printweek has approached Collins/HarperCollins for comment. 

One UK book printer told Printweek: “We hope this is not true regarding Grafica or any other printer for that matter. Regardless of blame I cannot for the life of me understand how humans can treat anybody like this. This is so sad and should not be allowed in any company in any part of the world.”

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