Local councils could be given fresh powers to shut down sweatshops in Britain amid fresh reports that poor working conditions are rife in clothing factories.
Channel 4 Dispatches: Britain’s Cheap Clothes
The Human Rights Committee has launched an inquiry into what chairwoman Harriet Harman has called an “epidemic” of British factory workers being poorly treated, The Telegraph reports.
Harman said a visit to factories in Leicester had revealed that between a third and three quarters of workers were paid below the minimum wage, working in unsafe conditions or without employment contracts.
The inquiry comes after a Channel 4 documentary series, which aired earlier this year, claimed high street retailers used suppliers who paid between £3/hour and £3.50/hour and routinely broke employment laws
Factory bosses told an undercover reporter they were unable to pay the minimum wage of £7.20/hour because they needed to compete with cheaper producing countries such as China and Bangladesh.
Suppliers have since called for stronger and wider-reaching regulation and more effective enforcement in a bid to stamp out unscrupulous practices in the UK garment industry.