British textile firms making products for fashion retailers River Island, New Look, Missguided and Boohoo have been accused of paying workers less than half the National Minimum Wage.
In an expose set to be aired tonight at on Channel 4, British textile companies have been accused of paying workers between £3 and £3.50 an hour — significantly less than the legal £7.20 minimum.
Tonight’s episode of Dispatches is set to show a conversation between an undercover reporter and an employer at Fashion Square Ltd in which the reporter says he is usually paid £7.20 per hour but is told that they “won’t get that here”.
“That’s what I’m telling you. We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh,” the employer says.
“They can get it cheap there. How will they get it made cheaper here? If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss.”
Fashion Square Ltd allegedly label clothes for River Island and paid the undercover reporter £3 an hour for work in the factory.
Another two British factories were found to be paying less than half the legal minimum wage, including a factory New Look that allegedly paid employees £3.50 per hour and another called United Creations providing services for Boohoo and Missguided which allegedly paid £3.25 per hour.
When questioned about the allegations facing them, River Island said it had removed Fashion Square from its approved factory list early last year.
“Suppliers were informed not to use this factory for any further orders,” the retail chain stated.
“Subcontracting without River Island’s approval is a serious breach of our terms and conditions.”
Fashion Squared denied the allegations made against them.
Meanwhile, Missguided stated in response: “We take the allegations… very seriously and demand the highest standards of safety, working conditions and pay from all of our suppliers and subcontractors.
“We are committed to achieving the standards set by the Ethical Trading Initiative and conduct regular audits and spot-checks of our supply chain.
“We have begun an internal investigation … we will also ensure these matters are addressed urgently by the supplier in the best interests of the workers.”
Both New Look and Boohoo stated they were unaware the work was being carried out in these factories on behalf of their suppliers.