Jun 13, 2022
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Poor conditions in Leciester garment factories continue - report

Jun 13, 2022

Many garment workers in Leicester are still paid below the minimum wage and receive no holiday pay, new research claims.

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After reports in 2020 highlighted poor standards in the city’s clothing factories, more than half of sector workers there still fall below minimum employment standards, claims a study seen by The Guardian newspaper.

The new study was commissioned by a new body, the Garment and Textile Workers Trust, which is funded by online fashion retail giant Boohoo.

The 116 workers who filled in a questionnaire – carried out for the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab and De Montfort University between November last year and this March – revealed they continued to suffer poor treatment. Complaints included workers not being allowed to take breaks and being pressured to work long shifts.

Some 56% claim they’re paid below the minimum wage, a similar number receive no holiday pay, just under half get no sick pay, and a third had no contract nor payslips.

Workers are also nervous about complaining in case they use their jobs and 8% are working illegally, either because they were claiming benefits or due to their immigration status.

The report partly blamed “ineffective or non-existent law enforcement”. And it added that while “some problems may take a generation to resolve, important progress can be made in the short and medium term through expanding initiatives that increase workers’ economic autonomy, addressing the factors that prevent intervention in exploitation, and promoting fairer labour practices.”

It recommended creating a single point of contact for workers to make a complaint to enforcement agencies, rather than them having to contact a string of official bodies. Other recommendations include English language and other training to give workers’ more employment choices.

Boohoo Group, which had been criticised in the past for worker problems and has been working to put them right, said its main reason for funding the start-up of the trust was to support it in “empowering workers to help eradicate any driver of exploitation”.

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