Fashion worker tells James O'Brien about shocking sweatshop conditions

6 July 2020, 14:17

By Fiona Jones

This caller told James O'Brien that the sweatshops in Leicester pay workers a mere £3.50 an hour.

The National Crime Agency is investigating Leicester’s textile industry after sweatshops allegedly continued to operate during lockdown.

Leicester was the first to face a local lockdown and the rise in cases has been linked to the city's factories.

Caller Michelle works in the fashion industry and told James it is common knowledge that workers receive less than minimum wage, citing the going pay rate as £3.50 an hour.

"There are some very very well-known brands that are behind this and I think the problem is there's always a demand out there from the younger people to buy cheap clothes, the cheaper the better," Michelle said.

James observed that people believe that if it is too good to be true, just don't ask, to which Michelle agreed.

She reflected that while she stays clear of these brands now, when she was 18 she would not have questioned why she could buy such cheap dresses to go out in.

Michelle told James that a lot of the factory worker are not here legally so would not alert the authorities - yet it is a well-known secret.

James suggested that Michelle herself is also complicit by working in the fashion industry and watching it happen.

Michelle explained it was difficult to police as factories would close after two years and sprout up under different names.

"I'm troubled by the casualness with which you relate this," James said.