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BOSSES at Boohoo were aware of “serious issues” at their manufacturers in Leicester where sweated labour produced cheap goods for the online clothing retailer, it was revealed today.
Work in the Leicester factories continued throughout the coronavirus lockdown, with workers unable to observe social distancing rules and lacking protective equipment, while the city saw an upsurge in coronavirus cases, reports found.
Shocking working practices were revealed by investigative journalists as far back as May 2018.
A lawyer hired by Boohoo to carry out a review said that senior directors “knew for a fact that there were very serious issues about the treatment of factory workers in Leicester.”
Alison Levitt QC said: “Whilst it put in place a programme intended to remedy this, it did not move quickly enough.”
Boohoo continued ordering and buying goods from the factories throughout the lockdown, even though workplaces were supposed to be closed.
Ms Levitt said the company “capitalised on the commercial opportunities offered by lockdown and believed that it was supporting Leicester factories by not cancelling orders, but took no responsibility for the consequences for those who made the clothes they sold.”
She laid part of the blame for the dangerous working conditions on “the authorities.”
The Health and Safety Executive, which is responsible for enforcing workplace regulations, has had its budget slashed by £100 million, 46 per cent, since 2010.
Since then, the number of factory inspectors has fallen from 1,500 to 978.
Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle said: “As a board, we recognise that we need to rebuild confidence that these matters will be dealt with appropriately and sensitively, and that they will not recur.”
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