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Boohoo to give factory tours amid exploitation allegations

The fast fashion giant is giving the public a look inside its Leicester supply chain upon special request.

Fast fashion retailer Boohoo is in hot water once again due to fresh accusations of sourcing their clothing materials from factories which engage in exploitative practices.

The company is part of a fashion group which owns other popular brands such as Nasty Gal, Misspap, and PrettyLittleThing.

The most recent allegations come from an identity-protected worker who claimed her boss is avoiding paying employees the minimum wage of £8.91 per hour.

Sky News acquired a series of factory employee payslips which outline the official number of hours worked, plus their total pay.

However, along with payslips are handwritten memos disclosing the amount employees are expected to withdraw in cash and return to the factory.

The source chose to remain anonymous when speaking to investigative journalists and charities, as workers have reportedly been threatened and intimidated over speaking out about issues faced in the workplace.

‘They say that you have to give this money back. I can’t give you minimum wage, I can’t afford to pay you minimum wage because prices are very low in our product.’

To date, the worker claims she has returned hundreds of pounds to her employer.

In response to this exposé, Boohoo has announced it will open the doors to its factories, inviting people to come in and ‘meet the real people who make our clothes’.

Those interested in a visit can gain entry by emailing the group explaining reasons for wanting to meet the Boohoo fabric weavers, printers, pattern cutters, and machinists.

At present, no further details about the visits have been revealed.

This isn’t the first time Boohoo has had to dodge claims about its use of unethical factories.

In July of last year, the company made headlines after its practices were branded as modern slavery, taking place in sweatshop-like work environments.

An undercover investigation led by The Sunday Times revealed that factory workers in Britain’s clothing-making capital Leicester were forced to work for £3.50 an hour throughout lockdowns – even if they had tested positive for coronavirus.

In spite of these revelations, Boohoo’s sales kept rising. The claims led to Boohoo promptly announcing they would cut ties with hundreds of factories in their UK supply chain after finding ‘many failings’ within the system.

It appears they either missed some factories, or worse, ignored underlying issues in ones that they remained in business with.

It’s also worth noting a couple key words here, such as ‘UK supply chain’, as the retailer giant uses factories across the globe – including in developing countries.

Affiliations with factories in these places, where working conditions are brutal and regularly breach safety regulations remain unaffected – see for yourself in the video below.

Indeed, Boohoo released a list of all its UK partner factories as part of its ‘Agenda for Change’ programme which started last year. The plan, which is still ongoing, is supposed to regulate its supplier audit and compliance procedures.

CEO John Lyttle had said ‘we are committed to transparency and this initiative is another demonstration of this’.

But it all sounds like empty promises. Unfortunately, fast fashion is inextricably woven into unethical practices. It is simply impossible to price clothing as cheaply as these brands do without exploiting the workers who make them.

Though vintage shopping is gaining popularity, the fast fashion market continues to thrive by collaborating with celebrities and influencers, undertaking exhaustive social media marketing, and hosting regular flash sales.

It will continue making millions off articles of clothing that are produced for pennies by people who get paid even less, unless we collectively stop filling our wardrobes with their labels.

 

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