BURNLEY-based fashion retailer Boohoo is facing renewed pressure from trade unionists and workers’ rights organisations following the publication of a damning report admitting that the firm profited from sweatshop conditions.
The report, which was published in September and carried out independently, found that the Burnley and Manchester-based firm benefited from low wages, in some cases as low as £3.50 an hour, and poor working practices from suppliers in Leicester, but also claimed it did not do so intentionally.
However, shop and distribution workers union USDAW is leading a campaign for union recognition for workers in Burnley, where the firm has a large warehouse, and says this is the best way to prevent similar abuses in future.
USDAW divisional officer for the North West Mike Aylward said: “We’ve played our part in the investigation and we’ve made sure we’ve given the appropriate information to the committee.
“We’ve now written to the company asking for a meeting and we’ve asked for access to staff.”
Peter Billington, chair of North East Lancashire Trades Union Council, which includes Burnley, and secretary of the Lancashire Association of Trades Councils, has confirmed the campaign has the support of both organisations.
The campaign has also won the support of trade unionists elsewhere across the county.
Ian Gallagher, of Blackburn and District Trades Council, said: “Recognising USDAW at its Burnley warehouse would not solve the wide-ranging problems facing Boohoo but it would at least be a start in giving some reality to the company’s website claim that ‘we want to operate as a business that is fair to all’.”
He added: “The author of the independent report found that Boohoo has concentrated on revenue generation sometimes at the expense of the other, equally important, obligations which large corporate entities have, and it has not felt responsible for conditions in the Leicester factories on anything other than a superficial level.”
The company has said it intends to implement the recommendations of the report into working practices in full and has pledged to improve standards across the company.