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UK factory raids add weight to calls for urgent regulation

Four out of 12 fashion and textile manufacturers spot-checked by the UK Border Agency have been found to be employing illegal workers in Leicester, in what is a huge blow to the reputation of the resurgent British manufacturing industry.

Some 33 out of 80 workers at companies based at Leicester’s Imperial Typewriter Building in East Park Road were found to be illegal immigrants, after one of the largest-ever raids conducted in the Midlands, which took place earlier this month.

Four fashion firms - Button Master, Traffic Fashion, Glamorous Designs and KGN Fashions - were found to have hired illegal workers and are facing fines of up to £10,000 per illegal employee unless they can prove the correct pre-employment checks were carried out.

The bust follows a similar raid by the UK Border Agency on Fiaz Clothing in Leicester last month, where 14 staff were found to be illegal. Fiaz Clothing faces a fine of up to £140,000.

These latest raids highlight one of the biggest issues faced by the UK manufacturing industry. Several legitimate UK factories have complained to Drapers via the Save Our Skills (SOS) campaign that the reputation of their businesses had been damaged by media coverage of back street firms employing illegal workers. These factories have called for the fashion industry to join forces to come up with a way to regulate or provide “approval ratings” for British manufacturers.

The UK Border Agency said it would remove the 33 workers, 26 men and seven women from Pakistan and India, from the country as soon as possible.

It is unclear what the four fashion companies were manufacturing or who their customers were. None could be contacted for comment as Drapers went to press.

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