Following the news that the UK sourced PPE from Chinese factories using slave labour, MPs and PPE industry experts have called for human rights not to be “trampled” upon.
The Guardian investigation which unveiled the UK’s reliance on PPE manufactured by North Korean women working in conditions of modern slavery sent shockwaves through the British political sphere.
Labour MP and shadow cabinet member Rachel Reeves stated: “These findings are extremely concerning and will worry all who read them.
We urge the government to investigate them immediately and outline exactly how procurement processes could have got them in a place where this kind of supply chain check didn’t happen. The UK’s ethical obligations should not be jeopardised at a time like this.”
On 18th November 2020, the National Audit Office released a significant report detailing the governments PPE procurement practices.
It stated: “We cannot give assurance that government has adequately mitigated the increased risks arising from emergency procurement or applied appropriate commercial practices in all cases.”
Earlier in September, the Guardian revealed that the government was guilty of sourcing medical grade rubber gloves from Top Glove, a Malaysian manufacturer accused of serious worker exploitation.
Professor Mahmood Bhutta, the co-founder of the Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group at the British Medical Association, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that the government has procured gloves made by migrant slave labour and now gowns made by North Korean slave labour.
The government states it has processes in place to stop taxpayers’ money funding such illegal and immoral practices. Evidently these are inadequate.”
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