A clothing factory called Jaswal Fashions, based in Leicester in the east of England, is facing a modern slavery investigation after an undercover reporter reportedly paid sweatshop-like conditions and below-wage payments to his workers, many of whom are from India.
According to & # 39; The Sunday Times & # 39; The undercover reporter found that workers were only receiving £ 3.50 an hour against the UK's statutory minimum wage of £ 8.72 an hour and were also working last week during the localized coronavirus lockdown town.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel described the allegations as "really appalling" and praised the undercover investigation for its role in "uncovering such heinous practices".
"I will not tolerate that sick criminals force innocent people into slave labor and exploitation," said Patel.
"Let this be a warning to those who exploit people in such sweatshirts for their own commercial gain. This is just the beginning. What you are doing is illegal, it will not be tolerated and we will follow you," she said.
Last week, the cabinet minister had instructed the British National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate allegations of modern slavery in Leicester's clothing factories after raising the alarm that they were a major cause of the increase in coronavirus infections in the region, which led to England's first localized COVID-19 blockage for the city.
"Over the past few days, NCA officials, along with the Leicestershire police and other partner agencies, have visited a number of offices in the Leicester region to assess concerns about modern slavery and human trafficking," said the NCA, dealing with the undercover Reports.
Britain's modern slavery law was passed in 2015, making it a crime to exploit workers and not pay the minimum wage.
The newspaper's undercover reporter spent two days at Jaswal Fashions, a factory that supplies clothing to one of the fastest growing UK online retailers Boohoo, which owns labels such as Nasty Gal, PrettyLittleThing, MissPap, BoohooMAN, Karen Millen and Coast.
A statement by Nasty Gal said the company would investigate the newspaper's claims, but insisted that Jaswal Fashions was not a "direct supplier."
"Nasty Gal does not allow any of its suppliers to pay less than the minimum wage and takes a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery incidents," said Nasty Gal in a statement.
"We have ended relationships with suppliers where evidence of non-compliance with our strict code of conduct is found. We will take immediate action to fully investigate the allegations, and if the allegations are well-founded, we will ensure that our suppliers work together with Jaswal immediately. " Fashion, "added it.
The boxes packed in the factory were called Morefray Limited, another clothing manufacturer based in Leicester. The newspaper said the man identified as the head of the factory refused to answer questions in detail, but said, "We have legitimate staff."
The Labor Behind the Label campaign group recently claimed that Leicester factories manufacturing Boohoo garments took the risk for COVID-19 employees by putting them under pressure without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) or social detachment work.
"New evidence suggests that conditions at Leicester's factories, which mainly produce for Boohoo, increase the risk of COVID-19 infections and fatalities for workers, as some factories remain open to production during the ban while others be reopened now, "the group claims in its report.
The allegations are rejected by Boohoo, according to which Leicester employs around 150 factories with an average of 50 employees each. John Lyttle, CEO of the company, told the newspaper that he had "personally written to all factories" setting out company standards and what they had to do to follow "government guidelines."
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)