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A fire in a factory in Italy, killing at least seven workers this month, underscores the importance of action to improve conditions for migrant workers. These workers, often illegal immigrants from China, represent a large part of Italian garment workers.
The Italian town Prato is noted for its large number of Chinese-owned textile manufacturing businesses, many of which employ illegal immigrant workers from China. They pay little heed to building and fire safety regulations. Combined with the widespread practice of subcontracting, these semi-illegal factories form the biggest risk when sourcing in Italy.
Italy, being part of the European Union, falls under Fair Wear’s low risk policy. Based on the conclusions of Fair Wear’s recent risk assessment that is published today however, Fair Wear is thinking of additional requirements for member brands that source in Italy.
Complicated supply chains
According to Fair Wear’s information, the factory that burned down was not related to one of the twenty Fair Wear members who source in Italy. Neither is the bigger factory, for which the factory produced clothes.
However, because supply chains are complicated and international, there is a chance that brands may have to deal with illegal workers in their supply chain. ‘Therefore brands that source in Italy should assess their monitoring system’, states Fair Wear’s Italy coordinator Annabel Meurs. ‘The fire underscores the need to investigate possible subcontractors.’