Labour Promises to Crack Down on Sweatshops

Yvette Cooper, the Labour Shadow Home Secretary, has pledged to reduce the amount of employers subjecting staff to unacceptable employment conditions, popularly likened to sweatshops. 

Speaking of a case of Eastern Europeans forced to sleep six to a room, she admonished the lack of current legislation to prosecute employers found to be operating so-called sweatshops.  In the above case, police officers had said no offence was committed, even though the victims had their wages stolen, as the men were in Britain legally and had consented to the work.

“People treated like animals, used to undercut local wages and jobs,” Ms Cooper told the conference.

“No crime?  This is not the economy we want, or the Britain we believe in, so the next Labour government will make this exploitation a crime.”

Ms Cooper called for ‘radical reform’ of European Union rules in her speech, which was made after Ed Miliband’s party address that notoriously failed to mention immigration.

She also pledged to stop companies using slave labour abroad for products sold in Britain, and said the next Labour government would change legislation to make it easier to deport EU citizens who had committed a crime.

“We need to do more to stop the criminals trading in humanity here and across the world.  To stop clothing woven with the sweat of slaves reaching our fashion rails, seafood stained with the blood of slaves reaching our supermarket shelves.”

She conceded that the last Labour government had made mistakes on migration, but criticised the current government’s inability to handle the crisis.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.