This week Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has joined a broad coalition of parliamentarians, businesses, investors, and civil society organisations to raise their concerns about unethical labour practices in the garment factories across the UK. The campaign, which is headed by Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the APPG for Textiles and Fashion, calls on the Government to take urgent action to implement a ‘Fit to Trade’ licensing scheme that will ensure garment factories meet their legal obligations to employees. These demands for better industry regulation have drawn notable signatories from the world of retail such as ASOS, Marks and Spencer and George at Asda, as well as leading justice and anti-slavery charities.

The letter demands that terrible working conditions in UK garment factories be addressed and makes direct reference to reports in lockdown of garment workers in Leicester working without adequate PPE or social distancing measures. It adds that such revelations further highlight failings in an industry already criticised for serious health and safety breaches and gross underpayment of the national living wage.

Jon Cruddas said, “These proposals by the British Retail Consortium to implement statutory licensing of garment factory owners and managers have my full support. Nobody in the UK should be victim to forced labour, debt-bondage or mistreatment in the workplace. Standardising the industry will not only ensure fair pay and conditions for employees, but it will also attract responsible retailers to invest in the UK, promoting sustainable and ethical business.”

The letter, which can be found HERE, also notes that despite significant efforts made by responsible retailers and brands, improvements to labour practices in garment factories are yet to become widespread in the UK.  This failure to meet industry standards has resulted in leading fashion retailers scaling down their UK supply. Signatories express that were the UK garment industry to become a world-leader in ethical fashion and textile manufacturing this might go some way to creating skilled jobs, improving the UK’s competitiveness and trading opportunities.