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UK: Guardian investigation reveals government sourced PPE from factories secretly using North Korean forced labour

“UK sourced PPE from factories secretly using North Korean slave labour”, 20 November 2020

The Guardian’s findings indicate that hundreds of thousands of protective coveralls ordered for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have come from factories using North Korean labour in the Chinese city of Dandong.

It is claimed that the North Korean workers in Dandong, who are mostly women, work for up to 18 hours a day, with little or no time off. They are under constant surveillance and are unable to freely leave the factories.

Sources indicate that the North Korean workers in PPE factories in Dandong have about 70% of their wages seized by the North Korean state.

The findings suggest that the UK government may have indirectly funnelled taxpayers’ money into the pockets of Kim Jong-un…

The government has faced mounting criticism over its lack of transparency and accountability in awarding billions of pounds of PPE deals...

“... This lack of due diligence lays bare the truth that, far from effectively tackling modern slavery, the government’s policies are allowing the egregious exploitation of workers,” said Phil Bloomer, director of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Evidence indicates that the shipment of protective PPE overalls linked to North Korean labour was part of a contract awarded by the DHSC to Unispace Global Ltd...

There is no indication that the DHSC or Unispace Global Ltd knew that North Korean labour could be present in its PPE supply chains.

Unispace Global Ltd did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the Guardian’s findings.

The Guardian found that two other factories in Dandong believed to be using North Korean workers have manufactured PPE for clients in the US and the Philippines.

In a statement the DHSC said, “We expect all suppliers to the NHS to follow the highest legal and ethical standards and proper due diligence is carried out for all government contracts.”