Leicester Council publishes first report around labour abuse and exploitation

Tuesday 30th March 2021 06:52 EDT

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke are urging the Government to create a single enforcement body that would cover all aspects of labour abuse, exploitation and poor working practices.

Their announcement arrives as the city council publishes the first annual report of the Leicester Labour Market Partnership. The partnership was set up by the city mayor in October 2019, bringing together key agencies that deal with matters such as health and safety in textiles factories, modern-day slavery and payment of the minimum wage.

Commenting on the report, Sir Peter Soulsby said, “I’m very proud of the success of the Leicester Labour Market Partnership. In the absence of a single, national enforcement body, it has galvanised the work of many different agencies by bringing them together for a joined-up response to the problems we face. The city council does not have the resources or the powers to deal with these issues itself, but we have set up this partnership because we are so determined to be fully involved in tackling these problems on a local level while we await national action.”

The report notes that there were more than 1,600 checks to ensure businesses were covid-19 secure have been carried out across key retail and food business sectors, including to 52 premises regulated by the Heath and Safety Executive, such as garment factories. It also reports about the progress and participation in the #EndGarmentSectorSlavery campaign launched by Crimestoppers, including a virtual event at the Leicester Business Festival 2020. As well as continuing the work outlined in the report, the city council is currently working on bringing new organisations into the partnership, including the Slave Free Alliance, which is locating staff members to Leicester.

The city council is also putting £300,000 into the Leicester Fashion Technology Academy, a state of the art training centre which will offer apprenticeships and accredited training for people working in the local textiles industry, helping to drive up standards.

Manufacturers are also being supported to establish an industry-led representative trade body, giving the sector a voice and helping to promote good business and good jobs. This appears amid recent reports that Online fashion retailer Boohoo has cut ties with hundreds of suppliers as it seeks to improve conditions for factory workers. The e-commerce giant earlier announced it had “ceased doing business with a number of manufacturers who were unable to demonstrate the high standard of transparency required”.

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