Less than a year after one of the world’s deadliest industrial disasters - the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka where at least 1,130 people died - an undercover investigation by ITV's 'Exposure' will tonight reveal footage claiming to show dangerously unsafe and inhumane conditions, with young working girls physically and verbally abused, in factories in the Bangladeshi capital with links to UK clothing brands.
The film features three brands in relation to goods being produced in Bangladesh - BHS (Arcadia), Southbay (as sold by JD Williams through its retail outlets such as Jacamo) and Lee Cooper, which licenses firms to produce goods bearing its brand.
A pair of ordinary-looking jeans belies what could be their harsh journey to a UK shop shelf
The film was shot by two Bangladeshi women who went undercover for 'Exposure' in two garment factories in Dhaka.
In the programme, to be aired tonight, they claim they saw:
- Workers, including young girls, being kicked, slapped and hit with a used fabric roll as well as verbally abused with physical threats and vile insults.
- A fire escape padlocked shut in a factory where workers were making shirts for British firm JD Williams, and BHS shirts were found in storage.
- Employees being coerced into working far in excess of the legal limit of daily and weekly hours, including girls as young as 12 working 11-hour shifts, with threats to workers of the sack and beatings used by management to make sure orders are completed. Jeans with Lee Cooper labels were filmed at this factory.
- The film also includes responses by JD Williams, BHS and Lee Cooper.
JD Williams says the factory that was filmed in was not authorised to make their shirts although they did tell the programme they had sacked their supplier and fined their agent.
BHS says that, although some of its shirts were stored at the factory, no production took place there.
Lee Cooper says the jeans in the film were either counterfeit or manufactured as the result of an unauthorised production order.
'Exposure: Fashion Factories Undercover' is on ITV1 tonight at 10.35pm. Watch the disturbing clip below...