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Ministers accused of insufficient action against UK garment sector abuses by parliament inquiry

Author: Sonia Elks, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 19 December 2018

"Labor abuses a 'risk worth taking' for fashion firms, UK lawmakers say", 18 December 2018

Fashion workers in Britain are being cheated of fair wages as lack of tough action make abuses “a risk worth taking” for factory owners, lawmakers said...

Ministers were accused of failing to act following reports of some workers being paid as little as 3.50 pounds... per hour, less than half the minimum wage.

“It’s clear that modern slavery is happening in plain sight and potentially in garment factories in the UK,” said Mary Creagh, chair of the U.K. parliament’s environmental audit committee, after a hearing about sustainability in fashion. “...There is an incentive not to pay minimum wage because the chances of getting caught are infinitesimally small"...

Committee members said insufficient action was being taken against those committing labor abuses in Britain. There have been just 14 prosecutions for non-payment of the minimum wage since 1999, the hearing heard... checks on factories were rare and fines for those underpaying workers were often only a few hundred pounds.

The government is acting on claims of abuse, said... the minister for small business... Lack of clarity over supply chains, even within Britain, can make prosecutions difficult, the hearing was told...

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