// Fashion retailers alongside 50 MPs, have called on the government to address exploitation in fashion supply chains
// The joint letter, coordinated by the BRC, called for an introduction of statutory licensing of garment factories in the UK
Fashion retailers including the likes of New Look and River Island alongside 50 MPs, have written to the government, calling for action to be taken to address exploitation in the UK’s fashion supply chain.
A group of 13 retailers including Joules, Matalan, Mountain Warehouse and N Brown, joined investors and NGOs in co-signing the letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, alongside 50 cross-party MPs.
The joint letter, coordinated by the BRC, alongside the APPG for Fashion and Textiles and the APPG on Ethics and Sustainability, called for an introduction of statutory licensing of garment factories in the UK which would include protecting workers from forced labour.
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It would also ensure payment of National Minimum Wage, VAT, PAYE, National Insurance, holiday pay and health and safety.
“Unless action is taken now, thousands more people will likely face exploitation,” the letter read.
The letter follows an investigation by The Sunday Times into fast fashion retailer Boohoo which led to allegations of modern slavery at a Leicester warehouse earlier this month.
The investigation found that garment workers at a site operating under the name Jaswal Fashions, were being paid as little as £3.50 per hour.
While Boohoo itself was not a signatory on the letter, chief executive John Lyttle wrote to the Home Secretary separately to call for an investigation.
“The UK has a proud history in fashion and textiles. A joint effort between industry and Government will ensure that the renaissance of which Boohoo group has been a proud part is a key contributor to our country’s trading future,” Lyttle wrote.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The BRC has repeatedly called on Government to take action to prevent labour exploitation in the UK. Recent reports in the media demonstrate the urgent need for action before more workers are needlessly taken advantage of.”
“While there is no silver bullet, licensing is a critical step toward resolving this issue. The public want to know that the clothes they buy have been made by workers who are respected, valued and protected by the law,” she said.
“Our members continue to stand firm against labour exploitation, and we hope the Home Secretary joins us in the fight to build a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.”