Labour leadership contender Owen Smith wants an inquiry into working practices at Asos

 
James Nickerson
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Smith said the work practices have no place in any workforce (Source: Getty)

An urgent inquiry into working practices at online retailer Asos is necessary, Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has said.

Smith today called for an inquiry to deal with employment practices at Asos, warning it is "the new Sports Direct".

Writing to chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee Ian Wright, Smith asked for consideration into "an urgent, specific inquiry into reports of unfit working conditions at the centre".

Read more: Asos sales jump as customer numbers grow 24 per cent

The letter read: "I’m writing regarding employment practice at the Asos distribution centre near Barnsley and to ask whether your Committee will consider an urgent, specific inquiry into reports of unfit working conditions at the centre.

Having met with the GMB, I’m appalled at reports that - among others - staff there are having to face invasive surveillance, limited access to toilet facilities and random searches during lunch breaks.

I also understand staff are being employed on what are effectively sub-zero hour contracts, where workers face little to no notice of the hours they're expected to work. And where staff are turning up to work only to be told they've got no allocated hours.

I know you’ll agree with me that these practices have no place whatsoever in any workforce and they need rooting out. I am concerned that the company is the new Sports Direct.

I’d therefore be grateful if you could consider using the influence of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee to shed light on these allegations and to hold senior executives at Asos to account.

Read more: Damning report slams Mike Ashley for “appalling” practices at Sports Direct

Smith was endorsed by the GMB union today with the support of 60 per cent of its members.

The GMB union represents workers on the Trident nuclear programme. Corbyn has repeatedly voiced his view that renewal of the nuclear programme should not go ahead and the deterrent should be scrapped, with the GMB concerned over its workers' job security.

An Asos spokesperson said: "We were surprised to see these allegations from Owen given that it was the first we had heard from him and he’s never been inside the warehouse. We work incredibly hard with XPO to create a positive, supportive, healthy working environment for the team in Barnsley.

"As we have now said on the record several times before - we don’t do zero hours contracts, people can take toilet and water breaks whenever they want, and we pay above minimum wage."

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