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ISSUE 65 page 7

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Health & Safety
Italian textile factory fire highlights problem of illegal Chinese companies 
 A FIRE IN DECEMBER AT A CHINESE-OWNED TEXTILE FACTORY IN PRATO in which seven workers were killed and three injured has highlighted the growing problem of companies that operate on the fringes of legality in Italy. The building housing Teresa Moda, located in the industrial suburb of Macrolotto, had no emergency exits and barred windows as well as cardboard compartments where 11 workers slept. A camp stove used for cooking is thought to have been responsible for the conflagration. The garment manufacturing area between Florence and Prato in Tuscany has long The garment manufacturing area between Florence and Prato in Tuscany has long been affected by firms moving to countries with lower labour costs but in recent years the flow has reversed as Chinese manufacturers were anxious to obtain a ‘Made in Italy’ brand for their products. It is estimated there are now 5,000 companies employing approximately
30,000 legal migrants and an unclear number of illegal ones. According to Italian trade union FEMCA-CISL these firms are characterised by a high turnover of employees, non-payment of social security charges and rapid closures before tax and health and safety inspectors can visit, re-opening with a different tax code number. Despite these practices government officials say that 1,571 checks have been made in Prato over the last two years, more than half of them on Chinese-owned businesses; 1,700 fines have been levied and 350 companies shut down.  However union leaders believe that more integration of Chinese workers is needed to ‘show them it’s better to be legal’ according to Manuele Marigolli of CGIL ‘Instead, when factories are raided, the workers are brought to the police station, fingerprinted and given a paper that tells them they have to leave Italy’.

Bouquets of flowers and a plaque commemorate the dead workers



Insecticide steps up to the oche as first biocide candidate
THE NEW BIOCIDAL PRODUCTS REGULATION, which came into force on 1st. September (see our last issue) has fingered its first candidate for substitution. Dinotefuran, used to control insects and cockroaches, has been found by the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to meet the criteria for a persistent and toxic substance. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the body which oversees chemical safety, must now hold a public consultation to see whether or not the substance should be authorised under the new law. Biocides are substances that kill living organisms and Dinotefuran has been held responsible for an incident in the U.S.A. in June last year when 50,000 bees were found dead. Expert opinions, including those of environmental groups, will now be submitted until 28th. January when the Biocidal Products Committee of the ECHA will begin its deliberations. A biocide can only be sold in the European Union if both its active substance and the product itself has been authorised but the process takes into account the availability of better alternatives. It is possible that the committee will opt for a compromise as in the treatment of three other substances in the same group of insecticides which were the subject of controversy at an EU appeal in April when Member States failed to reach agreement on new restrictions. The European Commission subsequently banned their use on bee-attractive plants and cereals..


New Turkish smoking bans as habit declines

TURKEY IS A COUNTRY WHICH HAS made exemplary progress in discouraging smoking in recent years. Since 2008, when a law was passed banning the habit in all indoor spaces nearly two million people have given up. Now stricter regulations are to be implemented that will insist on non-smoking areas outside cafés and restaurants. Smoking will also be prohibited outside shopping centres, theatres and cinemas as well as in playgrounds and places of worship. Media bans on smokers appearing in television serials and films will be extended to scientific and cultural productions. Further measures include plain wrapping known as ‘black package’ and referring to brands by designated numbers.Together with the bans new assistance for smokers who want to quit will also be brought in. Workplaces that are seen as rôle models, such as hospitals, will be targeted by experts and employees who want to give up will be supported by doctors and psychologists. The campaign was launched  among members of parliament in mid-November and will run until next May.


A Turkish smoker protests the original ban


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