Italy is the second largest producer for leather shoes in the world, yet human rights abuses and harmful environmental practices persist.

As part of the Change your Shoes project, the New Model Centre Development Association (ABI) and the Clean Clothes Campaign (Abiti Puliti) have developed a report: A Tough Story of Leather which focuses on the tanning industry in what is known as the Republic of Leather in the the industrial district of Santa Croce, Italy, one of three main districts working on the practice.

Through interviews and field research the report describes the reality of tanning in district which comprises 240 tanneries and 500 contractors which all together employ 12,700 workers.

The report highlights a number of big issues including job insecurity and low hour contracts, illegal and undeclared work, the exploitation of immigrants and the health risks associated with the tanning process.

It’s time to change our shoes and improve workers conditions all along the supply chain. It’s time for consumers to know under which conditions their shoes are made. The new report reveals the bad conditions suffered by many tanneries workers. It wants to be a first step to raise awareness among European citizens and, to call brands to respect and policy makers to protect human rights in the shoes production chain

Francesco Gesualdi

President of the CNMS and member of the Campagna Abiti Puliti

Undeclared and illegal labour in Santa Croce

What are the health risks to workers?