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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2015

Leicester: 3 an hour wage slavery scandal

Mike Barker, TUSC prospective parliamentary candidate, Leicester East

2,500 garment workers in Leicester, half the total in the city, are paid 3 an hour or less. This horrifying statistic, highlighted in a recent report, exposes sweat shop bosses who flout minimum wage laws.

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a campaign backed by companies, trade unions and non-governmental organisations, commissioned the report by Leicester University researchers.

This shocking study on the prevalence of modern-day slavery in Leicester says that across the East Midlands in 2010, textile companies probably defrauded workers of at least 50 million in wages. It emphasized that the average take home pay for garment workers grafting usually for about 28 hours a week with a "near complete absence of employment contracts" was a measly 79.

It goes on to observe "late payment of wages, and the official declaration of a portion of wages only. Employers often consider welfare benefits as a 'wage component' and force workers to supplement wages below the minimum wage with welfare benefits."

In 2008 the TUC pointed that the "HMRC (Revenue and Customs - responsible for enforcing the minimum wage) has around 5% of the number of inspectors that are available to the Department for Work and Pensions benefit fraud unit." The number of enforcement visits undertaken had fallen by 14,930 per year since 1988.

Cuts in the HMRC have affected these. The Low Pay Commission says that there are only half the number of compliance officers in post now compared to the number of Wages Council inspectors in the 1950s, despite "the considerable expansion of 'at risk' populations such as part-time ethnic minority and women workers".

In the past Leicester was a major centre for the hosiery and knitwear industry, but was hit by the closure of all the major factories as the work shifted to the far east. Now third world conditions are being imported back here.

The ETI urges retailers to check that their suppliers are acting 'ethically', but the trade unions are the key to changing the situation. The secretary of Leicester Trades Union Council, Tony Church, said: "I believe we should work with local unions to reach out to those workers and organise them in order to ensure their rights are won."

Cases like this exist across the country. The Socialist Party campaigns for a 10 an hour minimum wage now.

To that we must add urgent action is needed by government to enforce the minimum wage. But it will take a fight by trade unions, and a political will to make it happen.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 11 March 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Save our schools!

Take the wealth off the 1%

How can Russell Brand's call for revolution be achieved?

Economy: Reality doesn't match Tory rhetoric

Women in the frontline of fighting austerity cuts

Spied on by the state and bosses

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

Camden caterers demand Living Wage

Northern Ireland public sector general strike

NHS workers reluctantly accept 1% pay rise

Dundee hospital strike after 96% 'yes' vote

Oppose tax office's 'company union'


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Why we're standing for TUSC

Get ready for a revamp of the Socialist!

Socialist Students leads in Leeds

International Women's Day

Socialist Party general election appeal 2015


Socialist Party comments and reviews

"It wasn't easy, but I wanted to beat Thatcher"

TV review: Valleys Rebellion

Defend the right to protest

"I want my voice to be heard"

Leicester: 3 an hour wage slavery scandal


 

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Related links:

Leicester:

triangleSchools... no going back until it's safe

triangleLeicester care workers face pay cut and worse conditions

triangleLeicester: Nylacast worker exposes truth

triangleLeicester: We can't take any more cuts, any more misery, and we are fighting back

Slavery:

triangleBlack Liberation... Only possible through socialist struggle

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Modern day slavery in Bristol and worldwide

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: The legacy of slavery

triangleMalcolm X: hero of black liberation

Minimum wage:

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

triangleThe minimum wage must go up! Fund coronavirus workers, not bosses' profits!

triangleEssential workers deserve more

Unions:

triangleCovid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

Trade unions:

triangleStay alert to bosses putting profit before safety

Benefits:

triangleFight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

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