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The Leicester sweatshops wages appear to be more about illegal workers than wages

Summary:
The Sunday Times tells us that certain factories in Leicester appear to be paying less than minimum wage to their workers. Undercover at an East Midlands factory making clothes for the hugely profitable Boohoo and Nasty Gal labels, our reporter found almost no protective equipment, and wages as low as £3.50 an hour.It strikes us that this is about a different part of the law:I told him my name was Sri and that I was a student from India.That is, someone without the correct documentation to take a job in the UK.“You are working illegally, so do not discuss or say anything with other people. "Despite what everyone is calling it this is not slavery, modern or otherwise. People have come half way around the world and volunteered to do this - there is no compulsion - because it’s better than

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The Sunday Times tells us that certain factories in Leicester appear to be paying less than minimum wage to their workers.

Undercover at an East Midlands factory making clothes for the hugely profitable Boohoo and Nasty Gal labels, our reporter found almost no protective equipment, and wages as low as £3.50 an hour.

It strikes us that this is about a different part of the law:

I told him my name was Sri and that I was a student from India.

That is, someone without the correct documentation to take a job in the UK.

“You are working illegally, so do not discuss or say anything with other people. "

Despite what everyone is calling it this is not slavery, modern or otherwise. People have come half way around the world and volunteered to do this - there is no compulsion - because it’s better than not coming half way round the world to do it. That’s a reflection on the evils of conditions out there, not on those here.

It’s also an elegant demonstration of why free migration has its merits- those who migrate can, by dint of it being legal to do so, be covered by the same laws as everyone else. There is no such skulking in the shadows if that penumbra is not being used to protect breaches of work permit laws.

Another elegance is the example of how passing economic laws is so difficult. We have that minimum wage law and yet large numbers of people routinely break it. Because it is in their mutual interest to do so, the unpermitted and the low end employer. People just will do what is in their mutual interest which is a lesson to all of those who would constrain economic activity by politics and wishful thinking.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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