Reports in the national press, based upon trusted undercover reporting, have found that the alarming outbreak of Covid-19 experienced in Leicester may well be linked to the city’s sweatshop operations. It has been found that workers who are being paid far less than minimum wage were forced by rogue employers to continue clocking in for shifts during lockdown, without there being any effort to conform to required safe working practices. Reports say that there are several hundred ‘factories’ operating in the city’s garment manufacturing trade. These range from the larger, better known ones located in business premises, to those operating from rooms in homes and garages.
Obviously all are manufacturing to meet demand from retailers of cheap, fast fashion. Most it seems have been happy to turn a blind eye to the plight of the workers producing their orders, whether under their noses in the UK or overseas.
The government has now promised a thorough investigation which some feel will force the sweatshop operations even further underground. Said by some to be redolent of the slave labour conditions which proliferate in the third world, there has been a real sense of shock in many quarters to find that these ill-run businesses have been allowed to continue to operate. However, few in the garment trade are unaware of the network of suppliers located in and around Leicester and the fact that the very low prices they can negotiate would not be possible if workers were paid minimum wage and had employers who respected the law of the land.