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Burnley Council to consider Boohoo's refusal to engage with Usdaw

Date: 04 July 2019 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed a motion to Burnley full council urging online clothes retailer Boohoo to engage with the union, which is set to be debated and voted on next Wednesday 10 July 2019.
The motion, tabled by Cllr Mark Townsend, Labour group leader, states:
“This Council calls on Boohoo, Burnley's largest private sector employer, to respond positively to the recommendation of the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee report into fashion industry sustainability that they 'engage with Usdaw as a priority and recognise unions for its workers'.”
 
Usdaw will be campaigning outside the full council meeting, asking councillors to support the motion, which starts at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10 July and takes place at Burnley Town Hall on Manchester Road. The union will also be presenting a petition, which has been signed by several thousand members of the public. There will be an opportunity for photos and interviews, please arrange with Usdaw’s media office (contact details below).
 
Usdaw is continuing their campaigning outside Boohoo’s Burnley site, at their Manchester offices and in Burnley town centre today and on 6, 10, 12 and 13 July.
 
Mike Aylward - Usdaw Divisional Officer says: “We are grateful to Councillor Mark Townsend and the Labour group for their support for our members and all workers at Boohoo. We hope their motion to full council will secure unanimous support from councillors. It is absolutely right that the council concerns itself with the ethical trading standards of businesses in the borough.
 
“Ethical trading isn’t just about checking the terms and conditions of workers in the supply chain, as important as that is, it’s also about ensuring Boohoo’s directly employed staff are treated with dignity and respect.
 
“Usdaw’s campaign continues until Boohoo listens to reason, listens to our members, listens to a cross-party committee of MPs and listens to the Ethical Trading Initiative. I have written to Boohoo suggesting the company agree to meet with us in an attempt to understand each other’s opinion and to make this into a positive story of partnership and working together in that spirit.”
 
Cllr Mark Townsend, Leader of Burnley Council’s Labour Group says: “The major investment that Boohoo have made to bring jobs to Burnley over recent years is welcome. Their rapid growth has resulted in them becoming the largest private sector employer in the borough and with that now rest the aspirations and prosperity of many Burnley families. It is important therefore that Boohoo workers are appropriately represented in the workplace.
 
“It’s disappointing that to date the company have so far not engaged with Usdaw to build a relation of partnership and common interest as recommended by MPs in a recent report into the fashion industry.
 
“The Labour Group on Burnley Council fully support the Usdaw campaign to gain union recognition for Boohoo workers and we recognise the concern of the many Burnley residents who have signed the petition. I hope all members of the council will support the motion and get behind the campaign.”
 
Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Ethical Trading Initiative statement: “We are in discussions with Boohoo about membership, the formal approval of which would be taken at an ETI board meeting. While we adopt a process of continuous improvement a key expectation ETI has of its members is an open attitude towards the activities of trade unions, enabling effective representation and ideally for workers to bargain collectively. Any new membership application would be reviewed by ETI’s board to ensure that the company demonstrated such commitment.”
 
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee - Interim Report on the Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability: A cross-party MPs’ report into fashion industry sustainability specifically recommended that Boohoo recognises Usdaw as the union for their staff. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said: “We recommend that Boohoo engage with Usdaw as a priority and recognise unions for its workers.” https://publications.parlia...
 
A Boohoo worker contacted Usdaw to explain how the company are responding to the union’s ongoing campaign for recognition: “I work for Boohoo and all staff were told that when leaving work at 6pm there would be union reps outside wanting to talk to us. We were then told that we should not speak to anyone and if given any leaflets we are to just put them in the bin. I thought you would like to know what it is they are up to, that no matter what they say to you they don't want a union and will do whatever they can to stop it from happening, even make staff feel like they will lose their jobs over it. Please keep my name out of it, I am only telling you because what they are doing is wrong.”
 
Usdaw’s Boohoo petition: “It’s a crying shame that Boohoo won’t recognise Usdaw. We the undersigned call upon Boohoo to recognise Usdaw to provide their employees with an independent voice to represent their interests.”

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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