UK-based garment factory owners have been forced to pay out almost GBP90,000 (U$117,799) to workers after failing to pay them the minimum wage, data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has shown.

The figures sent to the Environmental Audit Committee as part of its inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, show that since 2012 an average of GBP900 each has been paid out to 126 factory workers.

The figures have been provided by Janet Alexander, director of individuals and small business compliance, following the Committee’s request for further information about HMRC’s textile industry casework at the 18 December 2018 evidence session.

In a letter published today (25 January), Alexander explains how more than GBP1,350 has been paid in wage arrears to ten workers following HMRC investigations. This is equivalent to more than three weeks’ pay at National Minimum Wage.

One in four investigations by HMRC found non-payment of the National Minimum Wage. The Committee was also told that 14 investigations are ongoing.

“‘Made in the UK’ should mean workers are paid at least the minimum wage. It has been 20 years since the introduction of the minimum wage but in our inquiry we heard that under payment is rife and goes hand in hand with a culture of fear and intimidation in the UK’s textile industry,” says chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP.

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“This letter adds to the scandalous and growing evidence of workers being criminally underpaid in the UK. This must stop. We need government action to end these 19th century practices in 21st century Britain.”

Click here to see just-style’s coverage of the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the into the sustainability of the fashion industry.