Press Reactive: Commitment To Leicester Workers Should Be The Priority

by | Nov 6, 2023 | Blog, Press release

*Embargoed for 6 am Monday*

*Credit: BBC Panorama: Boohoo’s Broken Promises on BBC One at 8pm*

Commitment to Leicester garment workers should be the priority for Boohoo, following the revelations of BBC Panorama into abusive sourcing practices by the fashion brand

  • BBC Panorama’s investigation reveals abusive sourcing practices not unique to one brand or country, but systemic and widespread across the garment industry.
  • The programme shows clearly that the pressure to drive prices down comes from the very top at Boohoo and disregards the commitments previously made to suppliers, as well as the welfare of workers
  • Employment conditions in Leicester are worsening as a result with workers paying the price for reduced prices on orders and outsourcing abroad – official data shows a reduction of 67% in manufacturing of garments employment in Leicester between 2021-2023. (1)
  • The practices revealed by Panorama are enabled by lack of regulation and oversight of the industry on behalf of the government and the failures of voluntary agreements.

In response to the revelations of tonight’s BBC Panorama expose of the garment industry in Leicester, Dominique Muller, UK policy lead for Labour Behind the Label, said:

“For far too long garment workers have sounded the alarm that fashion brands turn a blind eye to what is happening on the ground. What is worse – brands are actively sanctioning rules-breaking in order to drive a bargain with no regard to the financial strain this will put over workers.

Blaming bad apples for what are systemic issues in the industry won’t cut it. We urgently need legislation that ensures all brands treat all suppliers throughout their supply chains fairly. Brands must pay due diligence to ensure contract value covers labour costs at decent level, both here in the UK and abroad. Companies must investigate and remediate abuses within their supply chain and halt business practices, such as those seen in the programme, which encourage treating skilled workers as cheap and disposable workforce.

It is clear from the BBC’s most recent findings that only binding agreements between brands, suppliers and unions which commit brands to improving sourcing and purchasing will make a difference. Twenty years of voluntary initiatives have achieved nothing. In the absence of a government which cares about regulation and protection of workers, a binding agreement must be back on the table.

At the same time, brands must act, not flee. There is the opportunity to build a thriving industry that provides good, sustainable jobs in Leicester with the commitment of brands and the government. This would provide workers with decent work and stability – and manufacturers with the confidence to invest in the workforce. Abandoning ship and moving all production abroad will do nothing to stamp out unethical and abusive practices that continue abroad. Addressing the deep economic crisis that workers in Leicester are facing through providing good jobs should be part of a blueprint for a responsible industry globally.”

Notes for editors

(1) Comparison of Leicester’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 Economic Profiles as published by LLEP: https://llep.org.uk/

For press enquiries please contact:

Dominique Muller, UK Policy Lead at Labour Behind the Label
dominique@labourbehindthelabel.org // press@labourbehindthelabel.org // +44 7596 098399