Asos and New Look are set to attend an anti-modern slavery event in Leicester today that focuses on the treatment of workers in its textile industry.
The two retail powerhouses will join the UK‘s anti-slavery watchdog and about 40 other regulatory agencies, and comes as Asos and New Look voiced concern about the exploitation of workers as they plan to increase their production the UK.
A 2015 report highlighted exploitation inside the East Midlands garment industry, which has the second highest concentration of textile manufacturing in the UK – with 1500 businesses employing about 10,000 people.
According to researchers at the University of Leicester, up to 90 per cent of textile factory workers were being paid £3 an hour – less than half the legal minimum wage.
The former chief executive of New Look, Anders Kristiansen, also grabbed headlines this year after he said the situation was “a ticking timebomb”.
Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, who organised today’s event, said: “We have to acknowledge there are unethical and illegal working practices in the industry, which are preventing retailers from buying more locally.
“This is not just an issue for Leicester, but a national one. However, 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.”
Sir David Metcalf, the government‘s director of labour market enforcement, will also speak at today’s event.
Metcalf is in the midst of developing a national strategy to prevent the exploitation of workers and modern slavery in the UK, including in textiles.
Also attending today’s event are Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Health and Safety Executive, Leicestershire fire and rescue service, UK Visas and Immigration, Trading Standards, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, the police, Citizens Advice and the Insolvency Service.