11/07/2017 London News


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First tonight: a BBC London investigation exposing a cosmetics


chain exploiting its staff, some of whom are earning


the equivalent of ?2 an hour - significantly less


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


Our undercover filming shows the company gets round this


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


even though they're treated as employees.


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


UK's most prestigious shopping locations.


We found workers seemingly paid below the minimum


In what is called bogus self employment.


This manager tells our undercover researcher that to


work at her company she must be self-employed.


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


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


shopping centres, and at their high end Sakare stores


We heard they were treating staff badly.


Our undercover researcher, Clara, will go and work for


Self-employed people should have the freedom


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


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


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


A self-employed person would ordinarily be free to


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


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


And they are highly controlled, with penalties


for not cleaning properly and using their mobiles.


Some of the workers Clara speaks to our exhausted and


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


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


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


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


I was thinking that I will come to do something


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


By claiming staff are self-employed, this company avoids


having to pay a whole host of in work benefits.


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


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


national minimum wage for the hours worked.


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


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


This is false self employment, and this is


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


unfortunately, quite an exploitative employment relationship.


This is the owner of Soap Co in Finchley with his


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


There are two other owners from America and Israel.


In a statement, Soap Co said they took the


responsibilities under UK law very seriously.


They said, "we are therefore extremely concerned to


about the company's working arrangements.


As a consequence, we are reviewing those


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


We also asked these two managers about their


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


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


there are big questions for customers with skincare products of


the working relationship with their staff.


Our political correspondent, Karl Mercer's here.


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


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


employment lawyers and unions this afternoon and they very much


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


recommends fairer contracts for workers? The Mathieu Taylor report


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


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


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


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


enforcement from Government to make sure people were being looked after


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


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


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


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


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


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


The capital's tech sector has attracted more investment


than any other European city since the Brexit vote.


But there are concerns that this could change once we


As Katharine Carpenter reports, one council is taking steps


to maintain London's status in tech innovation.


It's got table football, the quirky office mascot


The education technology company, Fire Fly in west London


has all the hallmarks of a growing tech business.


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


The council wants the borough to become a centre for


But attracting talent here and retaining it has become


all the more challenging since the EU referendum.


Particularly with so much competition now from


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


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


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


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


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


give you access to finance, get you affordable,


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


but tech is lucrative and it is hardly surprising the west


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


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


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


Our first purpose, from Imperial College's point


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


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


The founders of Fire Fly have their big idea


They say the biggest draw west is flexibility.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of our area. The rain, through the morning,


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


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


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


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


Thursday, pretty decent weather again and a decent day


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


week. Good evening, a Dave heavy rain


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


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


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




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