The online fast fashion giant Boohoo is accused of ‘modern slavery’ after reporters have found out that staff at one of its factories in Leicester, UK were paid only £3.50 an hour.
An undercover reporter declared malpractice on the factory floor and claimed to have been told that ‘pay would be decided based on how you work’.
Boohoo’s Reaction To Modern Slavery Allegations
After the news broke that Boohoo’s workers are paid less than minimum wage and are in poor working conditions, the company has said it will investigate alleged illegal practices at its supplier in the East Midlands city.
The fast-fashion retailer told investors that it would end relationships with any supplier it finds to have broken its code of conduct.
However, the market analysts at Liberum believe the response from Boohoo ‘does not go far enough’. The brokerage firm said:
“The statement speaks of investigating the particular factory in question and raises the question of how many other breaches the management is unaware of.“
The news comes in the wake of the city being put on local lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases, followed by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock statement:
“I have significant concerns about employment practices at clothing factories in Leicester.“
Following the report, shares in Boohoo sank this morning.
In Breach of COVID-19 regulations
Apart from modern slavery, it seems that Boohoo is breaching the COVID-19 regulations.
As such, the same factory was operating last week – during the local lockdown – without additional health measures in place.
Further allegations were made that workers making clothes for Boohoo’s brand Nasty Gal were operating without social distancing measures in place.
The findings have prompted an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA), with the allegations labelled ‘appalling’ by Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“I will not tolerate sick criminals forcing innocent people into slave labour and a life of exploitation. Let this be a warning to those who are exploiting people in sweatshops like these for their commercial gain,” continued Ms Patel.
The NCA said it had attended ‘a number’ of business premises with other agencies, including Leicestershire police.
In a statement, it explained:
“Within the last few days, NCA officers, along with Leicestershire Police and other partner agencies, attended several business premises in Leicester area to assess concerns of modern slavery and human trafficking.“
The Guardian reported that Boohoo cleared old stock and brought in a new line at a speed that “astonished industry insiders and supply chain experts”.
Mr Hancock told that if employment laws and Government workplace safety guidance were found to have been breached, “significant fines” will be handed out and businesses shut down.
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