The Utter Truth About Garment Labour Exploitation in Britain
Out in the FT (Financial Times) today (17th May 2018) is an extensive and scrupulous article entitled ‘Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’, compiled by Sarah O’Connor.
As a sister company of a transparent, fully compliant factory based in London: Fashion Enter, this is a subject very close to hearts. We’ve been here before of course, last year the chief executive of New Look, Anders Kristiansen, riled up the industry with his hard-hitting comments that UK manufacturers have worse ethical standards than those in the Far East. While a Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ investigative documentary revealed that the demand for fast British fashion is on the increase at a highly unethical cost.
Sarah’s latest in-depth article reveals that, yes, the garment manufacturing industry in Britain is littered with unethical issues including poor, below minimum wage, pay to unsafe working environments. From what was once a thriving industry, thwarted by the ‘cheap needle’ overseas to the small but growing factories that exist today, the garment trade has made a welcome return to home soil, and for it to work in a fully compliant and ethical manner retailers, factories and governing bodies need to work together.
(Fashion Enter’s factory in North London produces 10,000 garments a week ethically.)
CEO of Fashion Enter and FashionCapital, Jenny Holloway comments:
“The article in the FT today, ‘Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’ by Sarah O’Connell really summarises the dichotomy of the garment manufacturing industry today. Yes, there are the bad guys in manufacturing just as there are with every industry from construction to the hotelier sectors, but come on…let’s see the highly skilled factory bases that are at the finger tips of the retailers and work as one!
“Retailers you need reliable and ethical factories now. How else can you achieve injections of newness every 3 -4 weeks (and quicker!) if you don’t invest and work with us?
“And retailers you expect us to be nimble and ready to jump (how high?) so you need processes that are leaner too. If we can supply garments in 3-weeks why does it take 3 weeks to receive labels? You need an overhaul of your processes.
“We liaised with Sarah after our open letter to the ETI. As author I accept the controversial nature of the letter BUT it was written that way for a reason. To provoke debate – to be straightforward and stop the smoke and mirrors that waste valuable time and just adds to confusion.
“If we can open a totally ethically run factory manufacturing up to 10,000 units per week then other factories can to. Galaxius is our cloud based performance related pay system and it was developed for all to use. It works; categorically 100%!
“So well done Sarah for offering a balanced view.
“So retailers what’s next? The ball is now in your court and Queens and Wimbledon are just around the corner!”
Fashion Enter isn’t the only fully transparent and ethically run British garment factory out there, as ‘Make it British Live’ which is happening next week (23/24th May) clearly demonstrates. Moving forward the entire industry needs to work together, retailers will need to change their strategies, the working conditions Sarah discovered when compiling her article should not be acceptable in this day and age and it’s happening right under our noses. Leicester has the opportunity to now turn this around and invest in an industry that clearly needs to work on home soil – for the good of the economy, the industry and the environment.