A damning new report that indicates workers in Leicester’s garment factories were put at increased risk of infection by remaining open during lockdown has been published.
Recognising the many safe factories, the Labour Behind the Label report highlights low pay in these factories uncovered from previous research – as little as £3 an hour – and serious worker allegations around wellbeing during COVID-19, including no physical distancing or hand sanitiser, working when ill and modern slavery.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now visited several factory premises in Leicester and has issued health and safety advice to them, with enforcement action and further spot inspections to take place in the coming days and weeks.
'Increased attention on the wellbeing and management of factory workers is much-needed'
With an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide – around 13,000 of them in the UK – IOSH says this focus on factories is 'much needed' but must extend throughout supply chains.
The institution has urged that as always, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that workers’ health and safety is prioritised and there must be proper risk assessment and controls.
'Increased attention on the wellbeing and management of factory workers is much-needed and welcome and must extend into supply chains,' said Richard Jones, head of policy and regulatory engagement at IOSH.
'IOSH continues to call for improved due diligence and supply chain transparency; licensing of the garment industry; effective enforcement; and consideration of a quality-mark for good work conditions.'
Last year, IOSH published a white paper calling on government and businesses to do more to fight modern slavery.