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LEICESTER EAST Labour MP Claudia Webbe expressed “grave concern” today after reports that online fashion giant Boohoo is being supplied by workers paid less than half the legal minimum wage.
Boohoo pledged today to investigate alleged illegal practices at a factory in Leicester where workers are allegedly paid as little as £3.50 an hour to work in poor conditions. The statutory minimum wage is £8.72 an hour.
Ms Webbe said: “I am gravely concerned by recent reports of employer malpractice in Leicester’s garment industry which has endangered workers during this pandemic.
“I know that this has been going on for some time. When I was elected as member of Parliament for my home city of Leicester East, ending workplace exploitation was and remains one of my strongest priorities.
“With an online shopping boom and unsafe, cramped working conditions with a lack of PPE, this has created a perfect storm for transmission rates to rise.
“This crisis has demonstrated the need for unionised, accountable workplaces that prioritise employee wellbeing.
“All workplaces must adhere to health and safety measures, and no workers in Leicester should be forced to work in unsafe conditions.
“The government must prove that it prioritises public health over private profit by beginning to take workers’ rights seriously.
“After this crisis, Leicester can no longer be known as the sweatshop of the UK.”
General union GMB has urged workers in sweatshop factories to seek help from the union to end the exploitation.
GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “The reports of workers on just £3.50 an hour in Leicester sweat shops are disgraceful — this is nothing short of modern-day slavery.
“We urge these workers to contact GMB union at our Leicester office so we can assist them in their claims against the company.”
Boohoo told investors that it will end relationships with any supplier it finds to have broken its code of conduct after shares in the fast-fashion retailer slumped today following the allegations published in the Sunday Times.
It follows an investigation by campaign group Labour Behind the Label last week which argued that Leicester is a base for at least 1,000 small clothing sweatshops, mainly supplying Boohoo.
The sweatshops were also identified as a potential source of Covid-19 infections because of appalling working conditions and blatant disregard for health and safety regulations.
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