He wrote to the Home Secretary in July urging the government to implement a licensing program to tackle illegally poorly paid and dangerous conditions at some garment factories.
He received no response and wrote again, telling the Home Office: ‘The BRC calculates that workers exploited in Leicester’s garment factories are collectively denied £ 2.1million a week in unpaid wages.
“This equates to over £ 27million since we raised this issue with you in July. This is completely unacceptable. ”
Ritu, who asked us to change her name to protect her identity because she is afraid of the consequences of speaking out, has worked in textile factories in Leicester for six years.
Her payslip shows that she paid the national minimum wage, £ 8.72 an hour, for 42 hours of work per week.
But she says that doesn’t tell the real story, as she is forced to work seven days a week for many more hours than she is paid for.
“It’s 65 hours, 75 hours a week,” she says.
“No illness, no benefits, only work. I work £ 5 an hour. ”
She says it’s not worth trying to find a job at another factory because “each factory £ 5, £ 5”.
When asked if she was afraid of factory bosses, she replied “yes, of course”.
She doesn’t think her English is good enough to find another job and therefore feels unable to leave.
There are up to 10,000 people working in hundreds of factories and garment workshops in Leicester.
BRC sustainability manager Peter Andrews says there needs to be more regulation of the industry.
“We call on the Home Secretary to implement a proven licensing system,” he told Sky News.
“So that no business can operate without first checking by the authorities that it makes sure that the minimum wage is paid, that its health and safety practices are up to par and that workers are treated fairly. “
The number of calls to the National Modern Slavery Hotline has increased – from workers in Leicester and beyond.
Justine Corrall, executive director of charity Unseen UK, says there is a systemic problem with some workers earning just £ 3.50 an hour.
“It’s not just in a factory or place, it’s right across the room,” she says.
“So if the workers sound the alarm, say there’s a problem, unfortunately there’s a chance they won’t get a job in one of the other factories.
“There are also threats of violence – real physical violence too, not only against them but also against their families.
“And some may not have regularized status in the UK, which means they are unlikely to speak out as it could further jeopardize their situation. ”
A spokesperson for the Home Office told Sky News they had received the letter from BRC and would respond in due course.
They added: “Exploiting vulnerable workers for commercial gain is despicable and we expect companies to do all they can to tackle abuse and exploitation in their supply chains.