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New Report Paints Leicester’s Garment Sector in a Bad Light However We Are a Part of Positive Change…


Yesterday, 12th June 2022, The Sunday Times published an article titled ‘Abuse still rife in textile city two years after expose’. Compiled by Louise Eccles, Consumer Affairs Editor, the general gist was that a new report by the Leicester Garment and Textile Trust revealed unethical employment practices such as; paying below minimum wage, physical violence, cold, poorly ventilated factories and refusal of maternity leave. The article and report paint a bleak picture and concludes that many of the so called anti-exploitation measures in place have been ineffective.

While there is clearly a lot to be done our own experience of training and working with Leicester’s factories, as a part of the Leicester Textiles Renewal Project supported by the Community Renewal Fund, has been a positive and engaging experience. There are a core number of factories keen to create, quality UK made goods by happy, fairly paid workers in factories that can pass the most stringent of audits.

The FCFTA Leicester opened in November 2021 and we have, to date, supported 139 individuals gain a qualification – some of these are in fashion and textiles, all of our learners have the opportunity to complete a 10-hour course SEG Level 1 award in Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation; This is about educating those that may not know what their employment rights are, how to spot if something is not right and how to report it to the right organisations.

This practical course, a UK first, also includes how to find and apply for a job and how to spot if a job is genuine or not. 66 learners have now completed this Level 1 qualification and many learners have obtained full time work in the garment industry – and we are confident that they know their rights. This indeed, is a positive step forward. As part of the Leicester Textiles Renewal project we visit and advise factories on ethics and compliance to ensure they are audit ready.

Jackie, Manager at FCFTA Leicester commented on The Sunday Times article:“English is often not the first language for our learners here at the Academy – and as per Louise Eccles article in The Sunday Times on the12th June, 45% of garment workers said their English was not good. This is why we have ESOL classes here at the Academy, to support our learners improve their English reading and writing skills. 

Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation course at FCFTA Leicester

“We also translate our courses into Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu to ensure we are reaching out to the majority of garment workers and that key messages are understood. Our focus is on educating and improving the skills and knowledge of our learners.

We have successfully delivered Level 1 Workers Rights and Labour Exploitation courses in garment factories – and are keen to continue this – the feedback from both workers and factory owners has been 100% positive and it’s great to see factory owners investing in their workforce.

“While there have been reports of poor treatment and working conditions in Leicester Factories, at the Academy we still see a huge demand for people who want to learn industrial sewing and have a career in the garment industry, along with supportive factory managers keen to retain a skilled workforce. Therefore our role here is to make sure our learners have the skills to have a successful career.” 

GLAA Chief Executive Elysia McCaffrey said: “At the GLAA, we are passionate about ensuring that all workers are able to understand what they are entitled to and how things should work for them in the workplace. This qualification is crucial in helping them to do just that.

“The course equips workers with the skills they need to look after themselves and also to share their knowledge with their colleagues, their friends and their families.”

Running the Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation course with Leicester factory workers

Skills and Education Group Chief Executive Paul Eeles said: “This is a ground-breaking and important qualification that can benefit learners from all backgrounds. Labour exploitation remains a significant problem in our society, and the Leicester fashion and textile industry has been investigated for signs of exploitation in recent times.

“It is therefore fantastic to see learners at Fashion-Enter engaging with a course that will enable individuals to develop a greater understanding of their Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation.”

First certificate presentation for those that have completed the Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation course

It’s with courses like this along with continued support from the likes of the GLAA and Hope for Justice, the local council and the government that we can really begin to make positive change in this sector and make negative reports and press articles a thing of the past.

Meet Leicester’s Manufacturers’ with us…

Celebrate the best of Leicester’s textiles and manufacturing hub with us at the Meet and Greet event on Thursday 16th June at Athena in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.

This is to showcase the fantastic range of manufacturers available in Leicester today – over 40 businesses will be present who’s textiles and garments are Leicester made. The evening event includes a fashion show and will celebrate the Community Renewal Fund programme and the Leicester Textiles Renewal project.

To find out more and book your place tap here

Tap here to visit Leicester Made website

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