11/07/2017 London News


11/07/2017

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First tonight: a BBC London investigation exposing a cosmetics

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chain exploiting its staff, some of whom are earning

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the equivalent of ?2 an hour - significantly less

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They're also denied worker benefits such as sick or holiday pay.

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Our undercover filming shows the company gets round this

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by insisting staff sign a contract saying they're self-employed

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even though they're treated as employees.

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BC London's been investigating a company operating in some of the

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UK's most prestigious shopping locations.

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We found workers seemingly paid below the minimum

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In what is called bogus self employment.

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This manager tells our undercover researcher that to

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work at her company she must be self-employed.

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Soap Co, with no connection to other friends with similar names,

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sells skin products from the Dead Sea in outlets at the Westfield

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shopping centres, and at their high end Sakare stores

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We heard they were treating staff badly.

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Our undercover researcher, Clara, will go and work for

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Self-employed people should have the freedom

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to choose when they work, but here, it's a mandatory schedule.

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They have to be at work for around 60 hours, six days a week.

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Do you know if we can take days off on the weekends?

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A self-employed person would ordinarily be free to

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do the work or not do the work on a given day.

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And that's not what we saw was happening here.

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And they are highly controlled, with penalties

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for not cleaning properly and using their mobiles.

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Some of the workers Clara speaks to our exhausted and

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This woman from Bulgaria, like many of the workers here, was

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recruited from abroad with the offer of accommodation and a job.

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When people are pushing you and the stress you every day,

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six days, 12 hours, you are under stress all the time.

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I was thinking that I will come to do something

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with my life, and after that, and became...

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By claiming staff are self-employed, this company avoids

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having to pay a whole host of in work benefits.

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Such a sick and holiday pay, and the minimum wage.

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When Carla collects her first pay packet, it is well under the

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national minimum wage for the hours worked.

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For 90 hours, I've received, like, ?200.

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Which makes it, like, ?3, less than ?3 an hour.

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This is false self employment, and this is

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much more an employment relationship than any I have seen, but

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unfortunately, quite an exploitative employment relationship.

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This is the owner of Soap Co in Finchley with his

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sister from our undercover recording in charge of day-to-day operations.

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There are two other owners from America and Israel.

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In a statement, Soap Co said they took the

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responsibilities under UK law very seriously.

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They said, "we are therefore extremely concerned to

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about the company's working arrangements.

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As a consequence, we are reviewing those

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allegations and the implications, if any, regarding the employment status

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We also asked these two managers about their

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understanding of the working relationship here, but they didn't

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Soap Co work in London's top shopping locations, but

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there are big questions for customers with skincare products of

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the working relationship with their staff.

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Our political correspondent, Karl Mercer's here.

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Do we have a sense of whether this could be wider practice? Yes, I

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think it is. Maybe not on this scale but I have been speaking to

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employment lawyers and unions this afternoon and they very much

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recognise the sort of things Guy skas talking about in that report.

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Maybe not concentrated in one firm as we saw there. We talked about

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self-employment and the unions were saying they think there is an

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epidemic, how it was described to me, going on, particularly coming in

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the care sector, not just with taxi firms, not just in retail, not just

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in food delivery companies, but very much in the care sector, and one

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union the GMB saying they had ten major legal cases going on at the

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moment. This comes on a day, a Government-commissioned review

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recommends fairer contracts for workers? The Mathieu Taylor report

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looking at modern working practices and very much covered a lot of this

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self-employment stuff, so-called gig economy, making big recommendations

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saying we should look at things like sickness and holiday benefits for

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workers, we should look at an enhanced minimum wage, better

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enforcement from Government to make sure people were being looked after

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OK and that would reap benefits for Government, maybe higher taxes

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because the employers would have to pay National Insurance. How has it

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gone down? The unions say this report doesn't go far enough. Some

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of the big companies saying - yes, we are willing to work with you,

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but, don't hit that flexibility, which many of the workers like and

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don't hit possible growth. OK, many thanks, Karl.

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The capital's tech sector has attracted more investment

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than any other European city since the Brexit vote.

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But there are concerns that this could change once we

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As Katharine Carpenter reports, one council is taking steps

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to maintain London's status in tech innovation.

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It's got table football, the quirky office mascot

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The education technology company, Fire Fly in west London

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has all the hallmarks of a growing tech business.

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But here in Hammersmith and Fulham they want to see a lot more of this.

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The council wants the borough to become a centre for

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But attracting talent here and retaining it has become

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all the more challenging since the EU referendum.

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Particularly with so much competition now from

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So while the French President's offering fasttrack visas for tech

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employees, west London's offering this - an innovation campus

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at White City, the centre-piece of an industrial strategy.

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If you came here, you would find a local authority that was genuinely

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Don't want to get in your way, they want to support you,

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give you access to finance, get you affordable,

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East London's silicon roundabout has had success with similar pledges

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but tech is lucrative and it is hardly surprising the west

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Last year, ?2.2 billion was invested in London's digital tech business.

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It creates around 300,000 jobs and the capital gives birth

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thinks it might have the edge thanks to the huge brains and innovation

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Our first purpose, from Imperial College's point

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of view, is to to create facilities and the spaces for the most fabulous

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ideas to be developed and turned into life and put out for a society

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The founders of Fire Fly have their big idea

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They say the biggest draw west is flexibility.

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One of the reasons we've taken a long-term decision to be in west

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London is that there is actually more office space and a wider range

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of office space as we have grown from two people when we started

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here in Hammersmith, to 50 to 100 people next year,

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there's a wider range of options for us to do that in west London.

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So now it's up to west London to deliver and take on the east,

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And leave you with Jay Wynne for a check on the weather.

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. Good evening. It was one of those days at Wimbledon today. The covers

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on the outside courts. The rain was heavy at times. Thank goodness for

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the roof. We saw some heavy rain at times through the afternoon and

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through the evening but, of course, it's good news for the gardeners out

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there. Still extensive rain overnight tonight. It is on the

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move, slowly working its way ever-southwards and eastwards but

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there will still be some rain left by dawn, by which stage temperatures

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around about 13, 14, maybe lower than that towards the north and west

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of our area. The rain, through the morning,

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doesn't last too long, it'll clear quick lane -- quickly and then the

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cloud will soon fool and brighten up for a lovely afternoon. A much

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better day at Wimbledon. Dry, bright and good spells of sunshine. Not

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particularly windy either. We should get a full day's play. Into

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Thursday, pretty decent weather again and a decent day

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Thursday, pretty decent weather again and a decent day to end the

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week. Good evening, a Dave heavy rain

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across some parts of England and Wales. It starts in the south-west

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and across Wales where we have seen over an inch of rainfall which

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continues to push eastwards. Day 8 of Wimbledon and rain stopped play

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across

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