Analysis: Slavery in Leicester – fashion’s dirty, open secret

Sewing machine black and white

Ethics and standards in Leicester’s fashion retail supply factories have once again come under the spotlight following allegations of slave labour and blatant disregard for social distancing requirements in the Covid-stricken city.

This time, online fast fashion star Boohoo is at the eye of the storm after claims that workers supplying its goods were paid below the minimum wage and forced to come to work even when ill with coronavirus.

Boohoo has unveiled a range of measures in response. The etailer says it has not found evidence of suppliers paying workers £3.50 per hour but it has found evidence of non-compliance with its code of conduct and axed two suppliers.

As its investigations continue, and whether ultimately Boohoo is shown to have failed in its own duty or not, the controversy is just the latest to engulf retailers that work with suppliers in Leicester, where efforts to stamp out bad practice have consistently failed.

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