LBL is launching a new project to engage with garment workers in Leicester.
“My name is Kaenat Issufo, and I have just started working at Labour Behind the Label on the community engagement project. I live in Leicester, the biggest garment industry hub in the UK, and will be working with local garment workers to understand their needs in order to bring about positive change in their lives. I will be bringing a real focus on local workers and the issues they face including underpayment and wage theft, poor working conditions, health and safety, gender and women’s rights and lack of proper labour regulations.
This job is very important to me. My mum and my sister are both ex-garment workers, and I have known the struggle for a long time. I understand the difficulties that garment workers go through in their life when they don’t get paid enough, there is no recognition or job satisfaction. Growing up in the family of a factory worker, there are so many things that I missed out on that other people had the privilege of. We couldn’t afford swimming or school trips when I was a child, and later on university was not an option. The low pay that garment workers earn is sometimes not even the minimum wage, let alone a living wage. It is barely enough to support a family’s basic needs.
Unfortunately, not much has changed in the last 25 years since my mother was a garment worker. This is why it’s really important to me to support the voice of garment workers and ensure they are heard by the community, brands and the governments.
I have over ten years of experience in community engagement and have worked with minoritized groups of people including people with language barriers and people who are new to the UK and unaware of their basic rights, which then leads to vulnerability and exploitation at work. I am really looking forward to this new role at Labour Behind the Label, and hope to bring about a positive change in the garment industry and benefits to the factory workers.”
Engaging with workers to raise labour standards
In 2020, we released a report exposing illegal wages, unsafe working conditions and exploitation in Boohoo’s supply chain. Many of the factories were based in Leicester, which is home to the biggest UK garment producing hub of around 1000-1500 factory units.
Two years later, little has changed for many of the garment workers in Leicester. With our new community engagement project, we will work with garment workers to identify priority areas and ensure that their voices are heard during by policy makers and brands.
This new project will enable us to move forward in our campaign to hold brands to account for the conditions in which their clothes are made, calling for greater transparency, living wages and an end to exploitative purchasing practices.