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The joint letter called for the U.K. to implement a “Fit to Trade” licensing program that will ensure all clothing factories meet legal obligations … reports Asian Lite News

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A dilapidated factory unit in Leicester

The British Retail Consortium (BRC),  the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fashion and Textiles, the APPG on Ethics and Sustainability and leading 13 retailers urge Home Secretary Priti Patel to implement a licencing system in Leicester to clean up the textile manufacturing sector.

They call for the introduction of a licensing scheme for garment factories that would protect workers from forced labour, debt bondage and mistreatment, whilst ensuring payment of the National Minimum Wage, VAT, PAYE, National Insurance, holiday pay and health and safety.

The joint letter called for the U.K. to implement a “Fit to Trade” licensing program that will ensure all clothing factories meet legal obligations.

They said the scheme would also create a level playing field for “businesses to compete fairly and prevent rogue businesses from undercutting compliant manufacturers”, and encourage retailers to source their clothing from the UK.

The letter was coordinated by the BRC. The signatories include ASOS, Misguided,Joules, Matalan, Morrisons, Mountain Warehouse, N Brown, River Island and the Very Group.

The new appeal is in response to recent reports of workers in Leicester being paid below the minimum wage and working in unsafe conditions. Boohoo Group, which has faced allegation that workers making its garment in Leicester were paid as little as £3.50/hour, has also supported the proposal of a licensing scheme.

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The Imperial building in Leicester, the home of many production units

“The BRC has repeatedly called on government to take action to prevent labour exploitation in the UK,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “Recent reports in the media demonstrate the urgent need for action before more workers are needlessly taken advantage of. While there is no silver bullet, licensing is a critical step toward resolving this issue. The public want to know that the clothes they buy have been made by workers who are respected, valued and protected by the law.

“Our members continue to stand firm against labour exploitation, and we hope the home secretary joins us in the fight to build a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.”

“Unless action is taken now, thousands more people will likely face exploitation,” the letter said.

The letter also said it would “prevent rogue businesses from undercutting compliant manufacturers” and encourage retailers to source their clothing from the UK.

 “As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, we have a huge opportunity to make the UK a world-leading, ethical fashion and textile manufacturing industry, delivering better, highly-skilled jobs,” said Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Textiles & Fashion. “It is crucial the Home Secretary seriously considers the urgent need to implement statutory licensing of garment factory owners and managers to ensure they are ‘Fit to Trade’. There is vast support for this initiative, and we need to see urgent action to prevent thousands more people facing exploitation taking place is some garment factories in the UK.”

 

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