Disgrace of Leicester sweatshops
of 27 September reports that
“Sweatshop labourers in some of Britain’s small garment factories are routinely paid less than the minimum wage but are too frightened to complain.”
The National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades is bringing Tribunal cases on behalf of several Asian workers who are being paid wages as low as £1.50 an hour!
journalist assigned to pursue this story was taken on a tour of garment factories in Leicester, where conditions were often reminiscent of the 19th century – pre-Factories Act:
“We saw blocked fire exists, machines without safety guards and workers sewing garments behind padlocked doors.”
“confirmed that they were paid piece-rate and their bosses simply divided their weekly earnings by £3.60 to come up with a fictional number of working hours for their pay slips …
One worker showed union representatives his ‘official’ payslip, which said he had worked 22 hours in a week at £3.60 an hour. An unofficial payslip handed out alongside it said he had actually worked 52 hours for the money, making his real pay £1.53 per hour.”
The goods being manufactured in these sweatshops were being destined for major stores. There should be a campaign to boycott labels, as well as the products of stores stocking them, produced with labour paid less than the minimum wage – itself far lower than people need to live on. Only campaigns that hit the profits of these sharks will teach them respect for the rights, health and safety of working people.