Growing Exploitation of Chinese Workers in Italy

Chinese immigration into Italy has tripled in the last decade, according to Italy’s official statistical agency Istat, which estimates that more than 210,000 Chinese live in Italy, although only 41,000 are legally registered.


The number of Chinese-owned businesses has grown by 232 percent across the country since 2003.

In March the city of Prato (Italy) opened a wide investigation to better understand working conditions in the factories after a young Chinese worker, believed to be around 16 years old, turned up at an emergency room malnourished and severely injured after a factory machine malfunctioned.

Evidence shows that those who do find work in the textile factories are often treated like slaves, working in sweatshop conditions.

At the same time, last week 75 people in France and Spain were arrested as part of an intricate human-trafficking ring that brings Chinese workers to Italy.

Trafficking for labour exploitation in Europe needs to be better addressed. While actors in the field have only discovered a tip of an iceberg, any solution to the problem will require understanding of new trends, developing new responses and partnerships.
For that reason trade unions, NGOs and faith based organizations launched a partnership to contribute to anti-trafficking response in Europe. Through the new project ITUC, together with Anti-Slavery International and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe as international partners, will improve responses to labour trafficking. The three organzations, as well as national partners in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain will in particular focus on exploring new trends in trafficking – such as gender dimension of labour trafficking, more and more severe exploitation of increasingly large groups of exploited migrant workers in mainstream economic activities and new labour trafficking recruitment methods including the use of Internet and ICTs.
The FINE TUNE project is supported by the ISEC/EU DG Home grant and it forms a part of the ITUC global action for protection of rights of trafficked workers and strenghtening labour standards for decent work.