Multi-billion pound retailer Boohoo is under investigation over claims of allegedly under-paying workers and allowing them to work in unsuitable conditions during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The fast fashion giant has been in the headlines this week after an undercover report published by campaign group Labour Behind the Label revealed that a factory in Leicester by the name of ‘Jaswal Fashions’, were actively producing garments for sister brand Nasty Gal during the enforced lock down in unsafe working conditions.
An undercover reporter from The Sunday Times who got a job at the factory has said they were offered between £3.50-£4 per hour to work there despite the national minimum wage for over 25s in the UK being £8.72.
Boohoo manufacture around 40% of their inventory in the UK whilst Leicester is known as the centre of the UK manufacturing industry.
Boohoo is owned by the Kamani family, who also own BoohooMAN, Nasty Gal and Miss Pap.
The Kamani family has responded to the allegations denying that ‘Jaswal Fashions’ is associated with them and said they were conducting investigations into how they came to be in possession of their products.
Boohoo commented that they are looking into the working conditions of the factories that produce their clothes – stating that they do not allow their suppliers to pay less than the national minimum wage. They have also vowed to terminate contracts with suppliers who were suspected of non-compliance with their ‘strict’ code of conduct practices.
Although the allegations against Boohoo are still under investigation, it is already costing them as this week one of their biggest investors, Standard life Aberdeen, dumped their stock in the company citing Boohoo’s inadequate response to accusations of modern day ‘slavery’ as the reason.
Although it has been well documented that workers are regularly underpaid in UK factories, this particular incident is catching so much heat due to it happening during a worldwide pandemic.
Outbreaks of Coronavirus in Leicester factories were reported last week which forced the introduction of a localised lock down in Leicester despite the rest of the country steadily easing out of the enforced nationwide lockdown.
It is not new information that modern day ‘slavery’ is a pillar of the fashion industry and in particular fast fashion brands who use unethically cheap labour in countries such as India and Indonesia to produce their garments.
So why now are we hell-bent on Boohoo taking responsibility for their actions? Whether intentional or passive, aside from the obvious human-rights violations and disregard of the worldwide pandemic – we are living in the culture of accountability.
It is of high value to consumers today that the brands that they are spending their money with are acting morally and responsibly on our behalf so we are not complicit in ethically questionable practices. This means brands must be actively investing in sustainable fashion practices.
The enforced lock down gave us all time to reassess our beliefs and actions and more importantly do better when we know better which seems to be a factor in why Boohoo is under major fire. It would be a step in the right direction if we could keep the same energy with all brands who are found to be moving mad.