Labour protection representatives call for abolishment of ‘sweat shops’ in Leicester

Photo credit: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images.

Textile factories in Leicester are facing new scrutiny as labour protection representatives lobby for improved working conditions in facilities across the county, it has emerged.

40 representatives of national regulatory and enforcement agencies are set to discuss Leicestershire textiles factories in a meeting in Leicester today.

The representatives aim to implement plans to improve working conditions for textile factory workers amid claims that facilities in the county were paying staff below the legal minimum and often producing counterfeited items.

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Leicester’s City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby is hosting the event, which will bring together the full range of regulators involved with the textiles sector for the first meeting of its kind.

Sir Peter said: “Many retailers now want to source more garments from the UK, and this gives Leicester a great opportunity.However, we have to acknowledge there are unethical and illegal working practices in the industry, which are preventing retailers from buying more locally.

“In Leicester we want to make sure that we have the highest standards of employment; that workers are properly paid, well-trained, and work in safe environments. We want to support our factories to be the best they can, and to set an example that others can follow.

Agencies attending include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, UK Visa and Immigration, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Trading Standards, ACAS, the police, Citizens Advice Bureau and The Insolvency Service, as well as senior representatives from New Look and ASOS.

Sir David Metcalf, director of labour market enforcement, who is developing a national government strategy for enforcement across a range of sectors including textiles, will speak at the event.

Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) have already prioritised the sector as one with the potential for future growth.

More than £2m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund has been invested in the sector, and the LLEP is currently discussing with the Government how to attract further support.

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