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Boohoo will “terminate” factories breaching supplier code

By Hannah Abdulla 06 Jul 2020

UK online fast-fashion retailer Boohoo Group has insisted it works to ensure everyone in its supply chain is "properly remunerated, fairly treated and safe at work" and warns it will axe relationships with factories that breach its supplier code of conduct after media reports surfaced that one of its Leicester-based supplier factories is paying staff just GBP3.50 (US$4.38) an hour.

Boohoo will “terminate” factories breaching supplier code

UK online fast-fashion retailer Boohoo Group has insisted it works to ensure everyone in its supply chain is “properly remunerated, fairly treated and safe at work” and warns it will axe relationships with factories that breach its supplier code of conduct after media reports surfaced that one of its Leicester-based supplier factories is paying staff just GBP3.50 (US$4.38) an hour.

According to a report published by The Sunday Times newspaper, the Jaswal Fashions factory in Leicester, UK, was operating during a local coronavirus lockdown in the city last week, without additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place.

The publication also claimed an undercover reporter, who spent two days working in a factory displaying the ‘Jaswal Fashions’ sign, was “told to expect GBP3.50 an hour”. The UK National Minimum Wage as of April 2020 is GBP8.72.

The report saw shares in Boohoo slump by more than 12%.

In its response, published on the London Stock Exchange today (6 July), Boohoo said it was grateful to The Sunday Times for highlighting the conditions at Jaswal Fashions which, “if as observed and reported by the undercover reporter, are totally unacceptable and fall woefully short of any standards acceptable in any workplace.”

“Our early investigations have revealed that Jaswal Fashions is not a declared supplier and is also no longer trading as a garment manufacturer. It, therefore, appears that a different company is using Jaswal’s former premises and we are currently trying to establish the identity of this company. We are taking immediate action to thoroughly investigate how our garments were in their hands, will ensure that our suppliers immediately cease working with this company, and we will urgently review our relationship with any suppliers who have sub-contracted work to the manufacturer in question.

“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.”

It is the second time in under a week Boohoo has found itself at the centre of speculation regarding poor practices at its supplier factories in Leicester.

Last week, campaign group Labour Behind the Label alleged workers at clothing factories in the city have reported serious breaches of lockdown regulations, with employees pressured to work with little to no social distancing or provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and some forced to go into work despite being ill.

Specialist National Crime Agency officers and Leicestershire Police have visited a number of businesses in recent days to investigate allegations of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Leicestershire Police have been working with partner agencies carrying out routine visits at workplaces and factories in…

Posted by Leicestershire Police on Friday, July 3, 2020

The city has been placed into a second lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News yesterday, the government is “very worried” about the number of infections in the city and warned it has the power to shut down businesses if they do not follow coronavirus guidelines.

The city of Leicester has found itself in the spotlight in recent years, primarily because it is the base for nearly 1,480 garment and textile factories – the highest concentration in the UK – and for reports of paying workers below the minimum wage.