Working practices and pay in clothing factories investigated in Leicester

Leicestershire Police, along with the Gangmasters Labour and Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the National Crime Agency, are among the organisations looking into allegations about how workplaces and factories in Leicester have been or are operating during the lockdown.

The Sunday Times carried a front-page article yesterday [5 July 2020] by an undercover reporter alleging that payment for working at a clothing manufacturer in Leicester fell significantly under the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and that the employer was not providing workers with necessary health & safety protection against Covid-19. 

A statement from Leicestershire Police said that they had made “routine visits” with partners to workplaces and factories last week following the rise of concerns about the businesses’ operations. On Friday alone, Leicestershire Police – along with representatives from the GLAA, Leicester City Council, National Crime Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Immigration enforcement, and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service – paid routine visits to nine workplace premises.

No closure orders were made on Friday, the statement said.

The GLAA told “We are committed to working with partners to ensure that workers in Leicester are safe during the coronavirus pandemic and are not having their employment rights eroded or abused.”

Jaswal Fashions, the factory identified by the undercover reporter in his article, was allegedly making clothes for major ‘fast fashion’ clothing company boohoo. However, in a press statement, boohoo said the company was not a “declared supplier” to them. “We are taking immediate action to thoroughly investigate how our garments were in their hands, and we will ensure that our suppliers immediately cease working with this company,” the statement said.

The company said further that it would not hesitate to “immediately terminate relationships with any supplier who is found not to be acting within both the letter and spirit of our supplier code of conduct. This includes very clear expectations on transparency about second-tier suppliers”.

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