Press

Sweatshop horror exposed

The Sun |  By Daniel Jones and Lee Sorrell | March, 14 2012 |  Share  | Source Article

SWEATSHOP workers were yesterday revealed to face beatings and humiliation as they churn out clothes for BHS - on slave wages of just TEN PENCE an hour.

 

The scandal at two Chinese-owned knitwear factories in Bangladesh was uncovered by investigators who found:

Staff who turn up late are PUNISHED by being forced to stand stock still for four hours.

Grieving workers are SACKED if they dare to try to take time off to attend family funerals.

Thousands desperate to feed their families are forced to toil for 12 hours a day -SEVEN DAYS a week.

Brutal officials who impose compulsory overtime regularly CHEAT exhausted workers out of much of their paltry pay.

One woman who complained a manager pestered her for SEX claimed two other supervisors savagely beat her up - and ordered witnesses to keep their mouths shut.

Watchdogs compared the conditions endured by workers to those in prison camps.

The investigators were so appalled they contacted billionaire fashion mogul Sir Philip Green - whose firm Arcadia owns BHS - to demand a crackdown.

The High Street chain - whose knitwear sells for between £15 and £35 - boasts a code of conduct stating: "When customers buy our goods we want them to be confident that they have been produced under acceptable conditions."

Last night a shocked spokeswoman for BHS revealed: "We are investigating urgently with the supplier who has used one of these factories for BHS production.

"It appears that there have been a number of violations of our code."

The exploited workers are employed at the Rosita and Megatex plants in North Bengal, where 70 floor managers brought in from the Far East supervise 5,000 Bangladeshis.

Staff smuggled out labels to prove the link with BHS and other major clothing companies around the world.

Arcadia Group also owns Burton, Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins.

Profits last year were £190.4million.

The 10p pay means it would take 320 hours for a worker to earn enough for a £32 "multi-stitch" jumper from BHS's popular Olive and Olivia range.

Others could save up for one slightly quicker - because they earn 16p an hour.

Charles Kernaghan, director of respected US watchdog the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, declared: "The factories are operated like minimum security prisons."

He added chillingly as his organisation unveiled a dossier of abuses: "Corporal punishment is the norm.

"Workers arriving late are forced to stand at attention - with their arms at their sides - for at least four hours.

"They cannot talk, turn their head or go to the bathroom."

Staff at one of the factories recently staged a sit-in to protest at the conditions.

Witnesses told how furious managers immediately hired thugs to beat up strike leaders with bamboo sticks.

Nearly 300 workers were sacked - and some were said to have been thrown in jail on trumped-up charges.

Mr Kernaghan said: "The international labels must immediately intervene to end the gross violations and restore the rule of law."

BHS's code stresses its goods must be produced "lawfully, through fair and honest dealing, without exploiting the people who made them". The chain said: "We provide a number of tools to help our suppliers understand and adhere to it."

The store vowed to act "as quickly as possible" after being alerted to the Institute's report.