Monday 20 July 2020 12:01 am

Fast fashion firms Asos and Missguided call for action on UK worker exploitation

Fast fashion retailers Asos and Missguided have called for urgent government action over the exploitation at UK clothing factories, after rival e-commerce firm Boohoo was embroiled in a scandal over the treatment of workers in Leicester.

In a letter to home secretary Priti Patel, a group of retailers, MPs and investors, including Allianz Global Investors, Schroders, Fidelity International and Columbia Threadneedle, called for the introduction of statutory licensing of garment factories.

Read more: Boohoo ‘aware of poor working practices’ in Leicester since 2018, MPs say

High street names including Next, M&S and River Island also signed the letter following allegations of poor conditions and underpayment of workers in Boohoo’s supply chain.

“Unless action is taken now, thousands more people will likely face exploitation,” the letter said.

Boohoo launched an independent review of its UK supply chain following the allegations. The retailer’s share price has fallen more than 40 per cent since the Sunday Times report was published two weeks ago.

The scheme called for today would protect workers from forced labour, and would ensure the payment of National Minimum Wage, holiday pay and health and safety conditions. 

The letter also said it would “prevent rogue businesses from undercutting compliant manufacturers” and encourage retailers to source their clothing from the UK. 

Read more: Boohoo shares continue downward spiral amid sales slump warnings

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Recent reports in the media demonstrate the urgent need for action before more workers are needlessly taken advantage of. While there is no silver bullet, licensing is a critical step toward resolving this issue. 

“The public want to know that the clothes they buy have been made by workers who are respected, valued and protected by the law.”