Textile workers “are denied tens of millions of unpaid wages”

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The retail industry has accused the government of failing to act on the exploitation of UK garment workers.

In a second letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said there had been “no meaningful action … to end this injustice”.

The BRC, which signed the letter with MPs, estimates workers have lost £ 27million in unpaid income since July.

The Home Office said it was working to eradicate exploitation and abuse.

In July, companies such as Marks & Spencer, Next and Asos – as well as investors, lawmakers and human rights groups – called on the government to implement a program to ensure that workers textile workers receive a statutory minimum wage.

The group’s letter to Ms Patel said: “We are writing as a broad coalition of parliamentarians, businesses, investors and civil society organizations about our concerns about anti-labor practices. ethics in garment factories across the UK.

“We call for urgent action by the government to implement a ‘trade-friendly’ licensing system that ensures all garment factories meet their legal obligations to their employees. ”

The letter followed revelations about conditions at Leicester’s textile factories which prompted fashion group Boohoo to launch an urgent review of its suppliers.

A Sunday Times investigation into conditions at Leicester factories found some staff were paid below the legal minimum and were working without coronavirus safety measures in place.

‘Fly’

But in the second letter to the Home Secretary, revealed on Sunday, the BRC and MP Dr Lisa Cameron, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion, said few responses had been received.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of BRC, said: “Despite numerous media reports and a previous letter to the Home Secretary signed by over 50 MPs and peers and over 40 retailers, investors and NGOs, we did have seen no government action to end this injustice.

“All the while, garment workers are being robbed of tens of millions of pounds in wages. ”

The BRC said that although it has discussed the plight of the garment workers with officials since July, it had not received an official response to its first letter.

The group of MPs estimated that more than 10,000 garment factory workers are paid an average of £ 3.50 an hour – well below the national minimum wage of £ 8.72.

Dr Cameron said: “It is vital that the Home Secretary takes action to introduce a licensing system for UK garment manufacturers and put workers’ rights at the heart of the industry”.

But the Home Office said it was wrong to suggest nothing was being done, adding that bad employers were being targeted by authorities to make sure they were following the law.

In a statement to the BBC, the Home Office said: “Exploiting vulnerable workers for commercial gain is despicable and we expect companies to do all they can to fight abuse and exploitation in their businesses. supply chains.

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