HWW is publishing today a report of our scoping study on working conditions in the textile and garment manufacturing industry within Greater Manchester. Thanks to everyone who helped us complete this study, particularly the workers and employers we spoke to, and the community workers and activists who helped us make contact with them, particularly Sandra Penaloza Rice and her colleagues at Migrants Support.
The report provides evidence that confirmed that the low wage rates (around £4/hour) and double accounting systems found by Professor Hammer in Leicester in 2015 were also present in sections of the industry in Greater Manchester. Small manufacturers also highlighted the challenges they faced, due to large retailers’ unfair purchasing practices, which included driving down prices to levels where it was impossible for them to pay their workers properly and leaving invoices unpaid for several months at a time.
We also highlight the importance of further research to enable workers voices to be heard in the debate to improve working conditions within UK manufacturing, and to prioritise our provisional policy recommendations. These include the importance of accessible employment rights advice backed up by effective enforcement services, that operate independently of immigration controls. Large retailers particularly those who value the flexibility and fact turnaround that local manufacturers can provide, need to recognise their responsibilities, and support their much smaller UK based suppliers to provide decent working conditions and a sustainable future for the UK industry.
HWW would be very keen to collaborate with others to find ways to extend this work. Please contact Lucy Brill at lucy(at)homeworkersww.org.uk to find out more.