🗓 Date: Monday, 26 September 2022
⏳ Time: 11:00
📍Location: Lower Galleria Room 1, ACC Liverpool, Kings Dock Street, Liverpool, England, L3 4FP
SME4Labour and Garment & Textile Workers Trust Fringe: Making “Made In Britain” A Label Of Pride: Workers Rights In The Garment Sector
Reports of labour exploitation in garment factories in Leicester hit headlines during the summer of 2020. Since then, retailers, civic society, Unions and local government have embarked upon a journey to turn the situation around. This event, sponsored by the Garment and Textile Workers Trust heard from Phillipa Roberts from modern slavery charity Hope for justice, Cheryl Chung from the boohoo Group, Kevin McKeever from the Trust and Tony Tinley from Unite. The discussion focused how we can make ‘Made in Britain’ a label of pride, looking at worker’s rights within the sector.
Earlier in the year, the Trust called for then Boris Johnson’s Government to play its part in advancing the ongoing efforts of enforcement agencies, charities, brands and Leicester’s Labour City Council by bringing about a single Labour Market Enforcement Body with the funding and powers it needs to effectively uphold standards in the sector, recognising that a collaborative approach and multifaceted effort is needed to achieve the ambitions we all share for Leicester’s garment sector and British manufacturing as a whole.
Tony Tinley from Unite noted that a less traditional form of organising and a more pragmatic approach from Unions was needed, while Phillipa Roberts from Hope for Justice also recognised the need for greater support from central government to advance the sector.
Kevin McKeever, Chair of the Trust noted that need to recognise those operating responsibly and fairly in the sector and that giving workers, as well as small business owners a voice is key to understanding issues, and therefore finding solutions. Cheryl Chung from boohoo, after being complimented by the retailers ongoing work in Leicester, discussed boohoo’s new manufacturing facility in Leicester that has not only on-shored the manufacturing of garments for some staple British brands. The question posed to her was can affordable fashion be produced without exploiting workers, the answer? Yes, with employees at the factory having secure contracts, private healthcare, shares in the company, fair pay and holidays, while the factory, that competes with others in the area, still turns a profit.