By  on December 17, 2013

MILAN — The regional council of Tuscany, led by president Enrico Rossi, said it has discussed measures to avoid future tragedies in the wake of a Dec. 1 blaze that killed seven Chinese workers at an illegal garment factory in Prato.

The council outlined plans to increase safety inspections in the area, with specific budget proposals and strategies to be presented no later than Jan. 15, and also to grant illegal resident workers who are victims of abusive working conditions special six-month residence permits, which could be renewed up to a year. The council reasoned this would help such workers to extract themselves from dangerous working conditions and seek assistance from the authorities.

“Behind a glittery economic facade, we are in the presence of a phenomenon of exploitation bordering on slavery,” said Rossi. “The [economic] crisis has produced a severe tendency toward black market labor. Certainly we must curb this, but our main job is to protect these people, defend their human rights, concentrating our team effort on these areas. What I think needs to be front and center is the theme of these people’s health. We have to do our part all the way.”

The Tuscany region also aims to collaborate with fashion and textile companies to improve product traceability, and to establish a multilingual support center for workers. In addition, Rossi suggested that warehouse owners should be made responsible for improving the conditions of their properties.

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