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6 Aug 2021

Dominique Muller, inews

UK: Leicester sweatshop scandal shows that the laws need to change

"Leicester sweatshop scandal: Boohoo did not break any laws – that shows the laws need to change", 6 August 2021

... Along with 15 other co-signatories, [Labour Behind the Label] wrote to the Government last year proposing a series of steps to properly identify and combat the underlying drivers of abuse...

Instead, the Government established Operation Tacit, led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). But this taskforce has no accountability to the public or the workers it purports to protect...  

...[Labour Behind the Label] have not heard yet of any cases where workers have been paid their missing wages. Previous estimates suggest that garment workers in the region are underpaid by around £1m a week in wages and holiday pay...

Boohoo...points out...it now works with only 54 approved suppliers “who actively demonstrate compliance with the company’s code of conduct”, representing “less than 6 per cent of those in operation in the city”

...Since last autumn, some brands sourcing in the UK have been working with unions and campaign groups to develop a UK-wide binding agreement covering responsible purchasing practices, transparency, and improved auditing and costing, as well as meaningful sanctions for non-compliance.  

The labour market enforcement bodies have been involved in this, but apart from the GLAA, most of them have played a minimal role, with few concrete suggestions for improving working practices and enforcement, and – crucially – protection and redress for workers.

...Legislation must hold brands responsible for the wrongs they create by demanding low prices and fast turnaround times.