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UK: Workers' watchdog could ban sweat-shop clothes

BHRRC

'Workers' watchdog could ban sweat-shop clothes', 09 June 2021

"The government plans to launch a new workers' watchdog to take over protecting the rights of UK workers.

The new body will be responsible for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers. Currently these tasks are spread across three different bodies. It said it was looking at extra curbs targeting the garment sector including banning sales if brands' behaviour does not improve.

The government is looking at these specific measures after reports of serious problems in the industry, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

One of the leading online fashion retailers, Boohoo, came in for heavy criticism after concerns were raised that workers at its Leicester suppliers were being underpaid and not being protected against Covid-19 during the pandemic. It was alleged last year that some factories in the UK working for the firm were paying staff as little as £3.50 an hour and had working conditions that did not meet Covid guidelines.

After an internal review, it cut its supplier network from an estimated 500 firms to under 100 following the allegations. Boohoo said earlier this year that if it were to discover any suggestion of modern day slavery it would "immediately disclose this to the relevant authorities." The government said it was looking into either creating a Garment Trade Adjudicator to investigate companies' supply chains, or it could extend an agricultural licensing scheme..."