Exploited workers in UK garment factories that supply clothing brands have been “robbed” of £27m since July because they are still being systematically underpaid, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
An estimated 10,000 garment workers are being paid £3.50 an hour, compared with the national minimum wage of £8.72.
This meant workers had missed out on £2.1m a week – or £27m in total – since retailers, MPs and NGOs last wrote to the Home Office in July calling for better protection for exploited textiles employees.
The BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: “The BRC has repeatedly called on government to do more to prevent labour exploitation in the UK garment manufacturing industry.
“Despite numerous reports in the media, and a previous letter to the home secretary signed by over 50 MPs and peers and more than 40 retailers, investors and NGOs, we have not seen any significant action from government to bring this injustice to an end. All the while garment workers are robbed of tens of millions of pounds in wages. Our members continue to stand firm against labour exploitation. Implementing statutory licensing of UK garment factories would ensure they are all ‘fit to trade’. We hope the home secretary joins us in this fight.”