Garment workers in Leicester are being sought to take part in a study to understand what can be done to improve their lives and working conditions.
Researchers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and the Rights Lab based at University of Nottingham, are hoping that their findings will help to make changes in the industry.
The study was commissioned by the new Leicester Garment and Textiles Workers Trust, which has been given £1m by fast fashion retailer Boohoo to spend on improvements.
Garment workers can take part in the study through a 30-minute anonymous questionnaire, available from Sharma Women’s Centre in Leicester or Hope for Justice this week. Everyone will receive a supermarket voucher for taking part.
Participants will be asked about their experiences working in the garment sector – good and bad – and if they have ideas around how people’s working lives can be improved.
Findings from the survey will be used to make recommendations to the Leicester Garment and Textile Workers Trust. The study will also examine other actions businesses, government agencies, NGOs and communities can undertake to improve the lives of garment workers.
Dr Alison Gardner, Rights Lab Associate Director (Communities and Society Programme) and Nottingham Research Fellow in Slavery-Free Communities, is leading the project. She said: “This study will provide a holistic overview of the current situation in Leicester with an emphasis on workers’ perspectives. We are pooling all of the insights and experiences from across the community to identify realistic, evidence-based solutions that local partners can work on together.
Co-researcher Professor Dave Walsh, Professor in Criminal Investigation at DMU, said: “It is vital that the community are involved in helping provide solutions to the problem of labour exploitation in the garment industry in Leicester so that the rights of workers are respected where, for example, they receive a fair wage for the work they do.”
Khudeja Amer-Sharif, CEO of Shama Women’s Centre, said: “Shama has a 35-year history of empowering thousands of women in Leicester, many of whom have gained machinist skills in our purpose-built industrial unit; helping them gain work in the garment industry.
“More importantly we are committed to ensuring that women seeking work in the garment industry are armed with the knowledge of their employment rights and the confidence to seek help when needed.
“I believe this research will be key in identifying the barriers that many of these women face and inform workable solutions to address some of the ethical issues facing the garment industry."
Paul McAnulty, UK & Europe Programme Director at the charity Hope for Justice, which has a Community Engagement Hub in the East Midlands, said: “We have been helping people to empower themselves and others to freedom, and we are proud to be working alongside the partners on this project. Together, we want to ensure that the true nature of exploitation in Leicester’s textile industry is understood.”
Posted on Wednesday 24th November 2021