Labour Behind the Label Disclose Damning Report on Factories in Leicester
On the 1st July 2020 Labour Behind the Label (LBL), a campaign that works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry, disclosed a report on unethical working practices in Leicester. In particular the report named the online retailer Boohoo and the manufacturers for the brand that have continued to work unethically during the COVID-19 outbreak.
To view the 20-page report please tap the link: https://labourbehindthelabel.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/LBL-Boohoo-WEB.pdf
Here is an excerpt from the report:
‘Factories in Leicester are no stranger to illegal working conditions, with numerous reports over the years showing low pay – as little as £3 – and blatant intimidation of vulnerable workers.
‘Now however, emerging evidence indicates that conditions in Leicester’s factories, primarily producing for Boohoo, are putting workers at risk of COVID-19 infection and fatality as some factories have remained open for production during the lockdown, whilst others are now re-opening.
‘It has been reported by workers that many Leicester factories continued operating throughout the lockdown. The principal cause was sustained orders, primarily from the biggest brand sourcing from Leicester, Boohoo, which continued to operate and trade online. By the 22nd April, even before the lockdown on businesses reopening was lifted, factories were reportedly operating at 100% capacity.
‘Garment manufacturing is a major industry in Leicester with over 1000 known sites, excluding homeworking. Most factories in Leicester are small workshops, often housed in dilapidated buildings with little investment in building safety and modern ventilation. It is inconceivable that such factories would be able to operate at full capacity whilst ensuring social distancing and adequate COVID-19 protection measures.
‘We have also heard of workers – positive for COVID-19 – being required to work throughout their sickness in order to fulfil orders.’
The report goes on to state how profit has been put before human rights and that workers were told to come into work even when they showed symptoms of COVID-19. It also talks about a real lack of inspections, factories working at full capacity covering 12-hour shifts during the outbreak while owners isolated at home and furlough fraud.
CEO of the Leading Status Fast Forward audited factory Fashion-Enter Ltd, Jenny Holloway commented: “It’s unacceptable for any factory to put the lives of their workers at risk and all retailers have a duty of care not to coheres their supplier base. There has to be integrity within fashion and the health of nation is at risk as evidenced by the spike in COVID-19 cases in Leicestershire.
“Fashion has to grow up and garment manufacturing must be recognised as a skilled profession that it rightly deserves. Putting profit before people is totally unacceptable, it doesn’t need to be this way – as we and other ethical UK factories demonstrate.”
Elle Argyrou, Senior Garment Tech at Fashion-Enter added: “Coming back to work, I was unsure how the factory would be. The team here have taken great measures to ensure the factory environment is a safe one, with all the correct procedures being followed for the safety of their staff. Big organisations like Boohoo should be setting an example and most importantly, secure a safe environment for the people that work so hard to make their product.”
Tap here to read: Maintaining Optimum Safety at the Fashion-Enter Factory During Covid-19