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Concerns over the ongoing situation of up to 10,000 garment workers in Leicester, who are feared to be trapped in conditions of modern slavery and paid £3 an hour, have been raised in Parliament.

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, raised a question on Tuesday about the continuing state of working conditions in factories supplying the UK’s booming fast fashion industry, and sought a meeting with business secretary Kelly Tolhurst for clarity over enforcement of the national minimum wage.

Speaking to the Guardian, Bridgen said what is happening in Leicester is a “national shame” and must not be allowed to continue.

“This is Leicester’s dirty secret,” he said. “These illegal businesses are not only keeping their workers in miserable conditions, they’re also undermining the marketplace for legitimate businesses to make a living in a very difficult market. I’ve seen the buildings where these workers are and it is shocking: the buildings are condemned – if there was a fire there then hundreds would die, and this is Britain in 2020. It’s a national shame.”

Persistent investigations into the UK’s domestic garment industry has raised the spectre of serious labour abuses thriving in factories across the north west of England with relative impunity.

Last February, an Environmental Audit Committee heard evidence of environmental and labour abuses flourishing in the UK’s fashion industry. MPs found that the Modern Slavery Act was not sufficient to stop wage exploitation at UK clothing factories and issued a series of recommendations, including forcing brands to increase transparency in their supply chains. Read more

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