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Boohoo statements on ethical trading called into question as Usdaw steps up the campaign for recognition

Date: 04 June 2019 Retail trade union Usdaw is stepping up their campaign for recognition at online clothes retailer Boohoo, after the company has this week again refused to meet. The company is persistently blocking Usdaw, despite a recommendation from a parliamentary committee.
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.”
 
Usdaw has run a sustained campaign for recognition at Boohoo and is stepping up the activities with an action day this Friday 7 June at:
  • Boohoo HQ on Dale Street in Manchester.
  • Burnley town centre.
  • Boohoo warehouse on Widow Hill Road in Burnley.
Mike Aylward – Usdaw Divisional Officer says: “Boohoo makes some pretty bold statements about ethical trading, but when it comes to giving their staff a voice through an independent trade union they are found wanting. 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.
 
“MPs listened to Usdaw’s evidence that countered Boohoo’s assertion that there was no demand for union recognition and we welcomed the recommendation for the company to engage with us as a priority, but the company continues to decline to engage.
 
“It is shameful that big companies like Boohoo, the largest private sector employer in Burnley, won’t recognise Usdaw. Our members are unhappy with Boohoo’s position and want Usdaw’s support in raising and resolving workplace issues.
 
“Boohoo staff should be allowed to speak for themselves, directly to Usdaw, and not have the company make statements on their behalf. Management claims that staff do not want a trade union is not correct. Our members working in Boohoo tell us that they want the peace of mind that trade union membership offers, alongside a recognition agreement.
 
“Usdaw’s campaign continues until Boohoo listens to reason, listens our members and listens the cross-party committee of MPs.”
 
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee - Interim Report on the Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability - Para 43: "We also asked Ms Kane (joint Chief Executive) whether Boohoo recognised trade unions. She told us that Boohoo would recognise a union ‘if the workers would like it’ but that ‘there does not currently appear to be a demand for our workers in our Burnley warehouse to require a union.’ Following the evidence session this was contradicted by written evidence from the union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), contesting Boohoo’s statements. This included evidence of 23 recruitment and awareness activities, dating back to January 2017, for Boohoo’s Burnley staff and written communications from Usdaw to Carol Kane and Boohoo’s HR Director asking to secure union recognition for Boohoo Workers. Overall, it is clear that despite Carol Kane’s assertion to the committee that Boohoo is open to recognising a trade union to represent their workers, the company has, over a prolonged period of time refused even the most basic level of engagement with Usdaw and appears hostile to the very idea of recognising a trade union." https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf
 
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 420,000 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.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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