Further joint visits to Leicester garment factories
11th August 2020
More garment factories across Leicester have been visited by enforcement agencies as part of Operation Tacit – a multi-agency drive led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to ensure workers are being treated correctly and businesses are following regulations.
The operation follows concerns around allegations of unsafe working conditions and the exploitation of workers that arose during Leicester’s recent localised lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, several enforcement agencies, working alongside Leicester City Council and Public Health England (PHE), have been conducting unannounced visits at commercial premises in the city.
On Friday (August 7), officers from the GLAA, Health and Safety Executive, Leicestershire Police, and Immigration Enforcement, visited six factories and garment manufacturers.
All the factories visited as part of this latest activity were compliant with the regulations and there was also evidence of good practice by the businesses in taking proactive steps to protect their workers from COVID-19.
GLAA Head of Enforcement Ian Waterfield said: “Since allegations surfaced about unsafe working conditions and the exploitation of workers in some Leicester factories, we and our enforcement partners in Operation Tacit, along with the city council and Public Health England, have been working together to make sure workers are safe from exploitation and dangerous working conditions.
“No one should have to work in an unsafe environment, feel forced or coerced into doing so, nor have their labour exploited. Exploiting vulnerable workers for commercial gain will not be tolerated and there is a concerted multi-agency drive to tackle it robustly. We also want to support those legitimate businesses who are complying with the law and treating their workers fairly.
“We want to know about unsafe working conditions, businesses that are exploiting their workers, employers who are committing tax fraud – we want people to feel confident to report their concerns.”
Mr Waterfield said evidence of criminality, breaches of labour law, health and safety regulations and other regulations, would result in action being taken against those responsible.
He added: “Under Operation Tacit we and our partners won’t tolerate criminality or a disregard for workers’ rights in the labour market. We need the help of Leicester’s communities to help us root out any employers and businesses who are exploiting their workers.”
Cllr Adam Clarke, Leicester Deputy City Mayor for Environment and Transportation, said: "This much needed resource is something we have been calling for. It extends the work we have done over a number of years to get the complex network of enforcement bodies to work more closely together. This is despite Leicester City Council having no statutory duty or enforcement powers itself.
"Whilst of course we welcome and encourage robust intelligence led enforcement by GLAA, HSE and HMRC, this must run in parallel to sensitive work, particularly with those being exploited and those at risk of exploitation.
"In addition, all activity must be aligned to work aimed at protecting and promoting those many good businesses offering good jobs, and resources should also be directed at creating many more good jobs in Leicester."
Anyone with information about labour exploitation is asked to call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
Note to editors:
Interview opportunities with GLAA Director Dan Scully and Head of Enforcement Ian Waterfield. Email firstname.lastname@example.org