MPs have dubbed reports of worker mistreatment at a Boohoo warehouse as a “wake-up call”.
The fast fashion firm said a report in The Times newspaper was not reflective of the working conditions at its Burnley warehouse.
After a reporter spent a month working at the site this summer, the newspaper claimed there were “gruelling targets, inadequate training and ill-fitting safety equipment.”
Workers described targets for their picking roles as “extortionate” and “impossible”, the newspaper reported.
The reports were “shocking” and should “be a wake-up call” for government ministers, according to Justin Madders MP, shadow minister for employment rights and protections.
The government had “repeatedly failed to deliver” a promised employment bill that would “tackle conditions in warehouses run like Victorian workhouses,” the shadow minister for employment rights and protections said.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said that instead of the government’s levelling up agenda, “it’s a race to the bottom.”
The reports about the fast fashion firm were also lambasted by Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who told CityA.M. she was shocked to read about the “enormous pressure” facing warehouse staff.
“Rationing and monitoring staff comfort breaks and their output in this dystopian way is unacceptable, as is the alleged use of ‘gagging orders’,” she said.
“We would rightly expect animals to be treated with more respect and dignity,” the MP added.
While the Manchester-based retailer was “taking every claim very seriously”, Boohoo said it did not believe “the picture painted is reflective of the working environment” at the warehouse.
It said staff told the firm they were happy with their workplace and felt valued via its employee engagement programme.
“We have been operating our Burnley warehouse for 12 years and are extremely proud of the work that we do there, the amazing team we have on-site and the important part our business plays in giving back to the local community,” the Boohoo spokesperson added.
The e-commerce brand fell out of favour with investors after it was revealed in 2020 that garment workers in factories used by Boohoo were paid as little as £3.50 an hour.
Following reports in the Sunday Times, an independent inquiry commissioned by Boohoo concluded there were “many failings” in the retailer’s supply chain.
However, the retailer has since pledged to make substantial changes to its supply chain and last year cut ties with hundreds of British suppliers.
Boohoo’s share price was down by as much as four per cent on Wednesday, ending the day down one per cent. Its shares have taken a hammering of 78 per cent in the past year to date.
The department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.