Blog: Chinese offer cheaper “Made in Italy” textiles

Joe Ayling | 2 August 2007

Tension is rising around Italy’s textile capital Prato as a section of Chinese migrants set up shop, or sweatshop, in the city.

According to an investigation by BBC’s Radio Four, many of the thousands of Chinese people working in the city’s textile manufacturing plants are doing so illegally. Some have even set up their own side-street sweatshops.

The local police service face an uphill battle smoking out the illegal workers, who are often absorbed by established networks who not only work in textiles, but also own production plants themselves.

According to the show’s findings, many of the migrant workers are willing to work through the night, and often undercut their Italian neighbours for wages and prices.

The city’s textile trade has already been hit by cheaper competition in China itself (one-tenth of its factories having been closed), and now faces an even tougher challenge on its own doorstep.

Other places in Italy, including Milan, where violent clashes broke out recently, have been swamped with migrant workers too and up to a third of the country’s Chinese immigrants could be illegal, reports Radio Four.

With the odd exception, the Italian fashion trade is reluctant to embrace Chinese migrants. However, by the sounds of it, keeping these workers and businessmen within reach might be a more effective way to police the influx than relying on seizures and tip-offs.

By Joe Ayling.

The BBC story


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