The Tuscan town of Prato is home to a large-scale textiles industry. Many of the factories in the area are Chinese owned and employ Chinese workers. Often, the production does not meet the ethical standards required by Italian or European laws. Workers are underpaid, they live and work in the same building, and are not allowed to leave the premises. Some of the workers told us they were paid one euro per hour for their intensive physical labor.
There are elements of human trafficking and organized crime involved in the textile industry.
I accompanied the Italian police during one of their raids into a Chinese-owned factory. We discovered entire families living in squalid conditions that can only be described as slavery. They were producing clothes with Italian names and with a Made in Italy tag, which were being shipped all over Europe.
The police arrested 12 workers who were in the country without the necessary documents. They also arrested the owner of the factory.
The authorities told me there are thousands of Chinese factories in Prato. During virtually every raid, they said, someone gets arrested for illegal activity.
I produced a TV documentary for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, as well as shorter news items for TV and radio.
Here’s a link to my online piece: http://yle.fi/uutiset/3-7998978