‘Disturbing’ conditions revealed at Boohoo warehouse

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Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride has expressed concern about alleged conditions at fashion brand Boohoo’s warehouse in Burnley following a Times investigation.

Speaking to Times radio, Stride said he was “deeply disturbed” by the report, written by a journalist working undercover in Lancashire.

Journalist Tom Ball reported how he would walk 13 miles in a shift in temperatures at times over 30 degrees, all the while monitored with a device strapped to his wrist. He described an environment where sexual assault allegedly went un-reprimanded, and where employees fainted due to the heat, with ambulances called several times to the building.

Targets to pick items stacked in boxes ‘like a forest’ in an airport hangar-like warehouse were unfeasible to achieve, the journalist said. “I spent a month working undercover [at Boohoo] and by the end felt utterly drained and demoralised,” said Tom.

A protester outside Boohoo’s headquarters in Manchester. Photograph: Twitter / Labour Behind the Label

The claims surfaced as a demo was held outside Boohoo’s headquarters in Manchester on 25 November, also known as Black Friday. The protest was held to highlight the environmental damage done to the planet by the discount shopping event and to stress labour abuses.

“Media reports between 2018-2020 found that workers making boohoo clothing were paid £3.50 per hour,” tweeted campaigning group, Labour Behind the Label. “#Boohoo, when you gonna pay these workers back?”

Retail workers’ union, Usdaw, which supported the demonstration, said that the Boohoo business model is “killing the planet and driving bad working practices.”

Mike Aylward, Usdaw regional secretary, said: “Regrettably, Boohoo has played fast and loose with their responses to persistent calls for the company to become an ethical trader.” Boohoo’s share price fell two per cent following the Times report and is down 68 per cent this year.

Boohoo told the newspaper that the claims were “not reflective of the environment in our warehouse and our colleagues’ experiences.” Its highest priority was “making sure our people are safe and comfortable in their workplace”.


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