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Boohoo to investigate illegal practices at factory

Boohoo has responded to allegations of slavery and poor working conditions after a Sunday Times exposé highlighted the conditions at supplier Jaswal Fashions in a recent undercover report.

Only last week, the fashion retailer defended its business practices against accusations that it was putting workers at factories in Leicester at risk of contracting coronavirus.

The allegations made by worker’s rights group Labour Behind the Label arose after the East Midlands city was placed under lockdown last week. 

The group said that workers were “being forced to come into work while sick with Covid-19”, and that it had received reports of factories working “illegally” throughout lockdown and that some employees had been denied pay when forced to isolate.

While Boohoo “categorically” denied the claims, a report released by The Sunday Times last weekend (5 July) found evidence of workers in Leicester making Boohoo clothes for £3.50 an hour, less than half the £8.72 minimum wage. 

An undercover reporter at the paper also filmed himself packing clothes with Nasty Gal labels at the Jaswal Fashions factory, noting that the site was open during the local lockdown with “no additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place”.

In response to the report, Boohoo has today (6 July) said that the conditions observed were “totally unacceptable and fall woefully short of any standards acceptable in any workplace”.

According to the retailer, Jaswal Fashions was not a declared supplier for the brand, however, and is no longer trading as a garment manufacturer.

Boohoo now believes that a different company is using Jaswal’s former premises, and it is “currently trying to establish the identity of this company”.

The group is now “taking immediate action” to investigate how its garments were in the hands of the culpable company, and will “urgently review” its relationship with any suppliers who have subcontracted work to the manufacturer in question.

In a newly-released statement, the group said: “Boohoo remains committed to supporting UK manufacturing and is determined to drive up standards where this is required. 

“Where help and support for improvement is required, we have and will continue to provide it, to ensure that everyone working to produce clothing in our supply chain is properly remunerated, fairly treated and safe at work.” 

It added: “We will not hesitate to immediately terminate relationships with any supplier who is found not to be acting within both the letter and spirit of our supplier code of conduct. This includes very clear expectations on transparency about second tier suppliers.

“We are keen and willing to work with local officials to raise standards because we are absolutely committed to eradicating any instance of non-compliance and to ensuring that the actions of a few do not continue to undermine the excellent work of many of our suppliers in the area, who provide good jobs and good working conditions.”

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