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Usdaw urges Boohoo to engage in talks ahead of AGM

The trade union said it was ‘very disappointing’ that Boohoo has ‘not made any progress’ on working alongside Usdaw

Retail trade union Usdaw said it has once again urged Boohoo to engage in talks to recognise the union ahead of the fashion giant’s AGM, which is set to take place later today (18 June). 

The union, which represents workers at Boohoo’s warehouse and call centre in Burnley, as well as head office staff in Manchester, said the group “continues to refuse to recognise the union, leaving staff without a real voice at work”.

It is now urging Boohoo to “not only clean up their supply chain, but also engage with the union to help repair their reputation and ensure their own staff are treated with fairness and respect, a promise they made to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee”. 

Mike Aylward, Usdaw regional secretary for the North West said: “We totally understand why shareholders have deep concerns about Boohoo’s reputation; after fast-fashion links with garment manufacturers who exploit workers and reportedly paid as little as £3.50 per hour were exposed. Sorting the supply chain is important and the company also promised MPs they would engage with Usdaw, but that is yet to happen.

“It is very disappointing that Boohoo has not made any progress on working with Usdaw since the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee found, over two years ago, that: ‘The company has, over a prolonged period of time, refused even the most basic level of engagement with Usdaw and appears hostile to the very idea of recognising a trade union.” 

He added: “We suggest that Boohoo would go a long way towards repairing their damaged reputation by meeting with Usdaw and engaging in a positive relationship. This is something that has been consistently called for by MPs and local councillors. They need to clearly show their employees, customers and the communities they operate in that Boohoo is serious about becoming an ethical trader.”

Last year, the fashion retailer’s co-founder, Mahmud Kamani, told the BBC he wanted to “make everything better” following allegations of labour abuse within the business.

It comes as an undercover reporter at The Sunday Times last year filmed himself packing clothes with Nasty Gal labels at the Jaswal Fashions factory, noting that the site was open during a local lockdown with “no additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place”.

While Boohoo “categorically” denied the claims, a report released by the paper found evidence of workers in Leicester making Boohoo clothes for £3.50 an hour, less than half the £8.72 minimum wage.

According to the BBC, Kamani spoke to MPs on Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee and said that this year had been “very difficult” and that he was “as concerned as everyone else” about what had been uncovered.

Kamani told MPs that he wouldn’t meet Usdaw, but added that the union was “free to campaign” outside Boohoo’s sites and that the company’s workers were “free to join them”.

Retail Sector has contacted Boohoo for comment. 

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