Made in Britain is great but ethics in business is better.

bad-appleThe recent reassurance of British manufacturing, and the increased consumer demand for ‘Made in Britain’, is great to see but it is important that this growth does not happen at the expense of ethical working conditions and practices. I was somewhat concerned to read that  the University of Leicester has uncovered mass exploitation and employment law violations in the UK textile industry.

The report by the University of Leicester estimates that workers are being collectively denied roughly £1m in wages each week, and forced to complement their wages with welfare benefits. There were 11,700 employees in the sector in 2010. From this workforce 75-90% were being just paid £3 per hour. This is less than half of the legal minimum wage of £6.50 and far below the UK living wage of £7.85 per hour.

According to the report, the workers are predominantly women and largely from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrant communities or from eastern Europe. In short, people that have few alternatives.

If true, this report is damming and serves to undermine the current renaissance of British manufacturing across all sectors. In the 70’s & 80’s the poor quality of the output from the Layland automotive factories affected the reputation of British manufacturing, both nationally and globally. This is a reputation that, arguably, has taken 30 years to shake off.

My concern is that if a small number of British manufacturers show signs of being disreputable that will ultimately affect the reputation of the UK manufacturing sector as a whole. British manufacturing, no matter what the sector, needs to be a brotherhood that upholds its standards for mutual benefit.

Of course there are unethical people in all sectors of business but it would be a crying shame if a few bad apples spoilt the whole bunch.

See the Guardian article here>>>

– James


  1. Whilst it’s good news to see Britain rising to the challenge of producing British goods, if done in a disreputable way, (as written above), then decline will soon follow. The majority of British people want to see a fair days pay for a fair day’s work. Lets hope this will follow.

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