Black Friday demo as Usdaw seeks talks with fashion retailer Boohoo over Times 'slave' claims

Retail trade union Usdaw has again written to John Lyttle, CEO of online fashion retailer Boohoo, requesting an open discussion without preconditions, following the latest revelations from an investigative reporter, who went undercover in the company’s Burnley warehouse.

The union has been inundated with calls from workers asking for assistance to help improve their working lives.

The Times reporter found that workers “are forced to walk the equivalent of a half-marathon per shift in a sweltering warehouse in which night-time temperatures can reach 32C. Staff label themselves ‘slaves’.

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The harsh conditions have led to workers collapsing in the aisles, with an ambulance called to the site once a month on average.”

The Usdaw union is demanding union recognition for workers at Burnley's Boohoo

Usdaw represents workers at Boohoo’s warehouse and call centre in Burnley along with the head office in Manchester, but the company continues to refuse to recognise the union, leaving staff without a real voice at work.

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Parliament putting pressure on Burnley company Boohoo to recognise union
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On Black Friday (today) Usdaw activists will be joining a demonstration outside Boohoo HQ in Manchester organised by Labour Behind the Label.

Mike Aylward, Usdaw regional secretary, said: “For some years we have been seeking a dialogue with Boohoo to enable us to represent our members’ concerns, but we have been met with a wall of silence, while staff have been told in no uncertain terms not to engage with the union. So, on top of the issues discovered by an undercover reporter, staff feel like they have no way of raising issues with managers or finding resolutions to problems. That is why they need an independent trade union, to give them a voice at work.

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“We have yet again asked Boohoo to take the simple step of sitting down with Usdaw to explore how we can work together. Staff, the local community, councillors, MPs and campaign organisations all want this to happen, to help make Boohoo an ethical trader. The company could go a long way towards repairing their damaged reputation by meeting with Usdaw and engaging in a positive relationship. Regrettably we have still received no response; for the sake of their employees we hope that will change.

“Our message to Boohoo is clear, end your anti-union stance and refusal to talk because together we can resolve the very many issues your staff have endured over the years.”