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Boohoo again urged to engage with Usdaw after further revelations of poor working conditions in their Burnley warehouse

Date: 23 November 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has again written to John Lyttle, CEO of online fashion retailer Boohoo, requesting an open discussion without preconditions, following the latest revelations from an investigative reporter, who went undercover in the company’s Burnley warehouse. The union has been inundated with calls from workers asking for assistance to help improve their working lives.
The Times reporter found that workers… “are forced to walk the equivalent of a half-marathon per shift in a sweltering warehouse in which night-time temperatures can reach 32C. Staff label themselves ‘slaves’ and have complained of racism, sexual harassment, gruelling targets, inadequate training and ill-fitting safety equipment. The harsh conditions have led to workers collapsing in the aisles, with an ambulance called to the site once a month on average.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/boohoo-warehouse-burnley-workers-slaves-investigation-dspflp9cj
 
Usdaw represents workers at Boohoo’s warehouse and call centre in Burnley along with the head office in Manchester, but the company continues to refuse to recognise the union, leaving staff without a real voice at work. On this year’s Black Friday (25 November) Usdaw activists will be joining a demonstration outside Boohoo HQ in Manchester organised by Labour Behind the Label.
 
Mike Aylward – Usdaw Regional Secretary says: “For some years we have been seeking a dialogue with Boohoo to enable us to represent our members’ concerns, but we have been met with a wall of silence, while staff have been told in no uncertain terms not to engage with the union. So, on top of the issues discovered by an undercover reporter, staff feel like they have no way of raising issues with managers or finding resolutions to problems. That is why they need an independent trade union, to give them a voice at work.
 
“We have yet again asked Boohoo to take the simple step of sitting down with Usdaw to explore how we can work together. Staff, the local community, councillors, MPs and campaign organisations all want this to happen, to help make Boohoo an ethical trader. The company could go a long way towards repairing their damaged reputation by meeting with Usdaw and engaging in a positive relationship. Regrettably we have still received no response; for the sake of their employees we hope that will change.
 
“This Friday, Black Friday, we are joining a demonstration outside Boohoo’s Manchester HQ, organised by Labour Behind the Label, to seek fairness and respect for fashion industry workers. We don’t want to be on the streets protesting, but while the company refuses to talk we have few alternatives. So our message to Boohoo is clear, end your anti-union stance and refusal to talk because together we can resolve the very many issues your staff have endured over the years.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
 
Labour Behind the Label is a campaign that works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry https://labourbehindthelabel.org
 
Demo outside Boohoo HQ to protest Black Friday excess: 0930, Friday 25th November, Boohoo HQ, Dale Street, Manchester. Participating organisations so far: XR Fashion Action, XR Manchester, Labour Behind the Label, Usdaw, People + Planet
 
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Report: The cross-party MPs’ report into fashion industry sustainability specifically said: “We recommend that Boohoo engage with Usdaw as a priority and recognise unions for its workers.” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers