By Oisin Sweeney •
Published: 21 Nov 2020 • 21:29
The UK may have bought PPE made by North Korean ‘slaves’ in China, a recent investigation has revealed.
The UK government allegedly bought hundreds of thousands of PPE garments produced by North Korean slaves in China. The Department of Health made massive orders for protective coveralls that were made in the northeast city of Dandong, close to the North Korean border.
In these factories, it is alleged that female North Korean workers must hand over 70% of their already small wages to their manager who then passes it on to the dictatorship’s state. A Guardian investigation has revealed that these women work 18-hour shifts with no days off, are banned from leaving their factories and live under constant surveillance.
It is believed that the UK government’s largest PPE contractor, Unispace Global Ltd, outsourced production to Dandong Huayang Textiles and Garments Co Ltd, who operate the factories in China where the alleged slave labour is used.
The Department of Health said that ‘While this contract has now concluded, we take all allegations of modern slavery and forced labour seriously. We will investigate and make sure inquiries of the supplier concerned.’
It is a breach of UN sanctions to do any business with North Korea, as proceeds could fund the state’s dangerous missile and nuclear ambitions. However, it is alleged that PPE gear made by North Korean workers who paid heavy tax to the state was sold to Germany, Italy, the US, South Africa and other countries during the pandemic.
The Dandong city’s official website claims that 21 million pieces of PPE were produced there between January and July this year.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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