Undercover investigation finds Boohoo workers at Burnley warehouse feel they are treated like 'slaves'

Burnley’s biggest private sector employer, boohoo.com, which has a huge warehouse and offices in the town, has been accused of treating its workers like slaves after an undercover investigation.

An undercover reporter for The Times newspaper has claimed that staff at the online fashion giant's warehouse in Widow Hill Road, Burnley, were made to work in temperatures of up to 32C over 12-hour shifts and were expected to collect 130 items an hour.

The newspaper’s report highlighted what it described as “gruelling targets, inadequate training and ill-fitting safety equipment” for staff who compared themselves to “slaves”.

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The journalist spent a month working undercover at the site, but Boohoo responded by saying it does not believe “the picture painted is reflective” of the conditions at its Burnley warehouse.

Boohoo's huge Burnley warehouse where an undervocer reporter from The Times claims workers believe they are treated like slaves
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In response a Boohoo spokesman said: “Boohoo is taking every claim very seriously, but does not believe the picture painted is reflective of the working environment at our Burnley warehouse.

“Making sure our people are safe and comfortable in their workplace is our highest priority. Through the firm's employee engagement programme staff tell us that they are happy with their working environment, feel valued and feel listened to.”

The allegation is the latest scandal to hit the company, which was also accused of blocking union recognition in 2019, despite a recommendation from Parliament.

The company, which employs around 1,000 people in Burnley, was described as "shameful" by union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) which said it was being ignored by the company and this week refused to meet union representatives.

It is not the first time Boohoo has been accused of treating its workers poorly. The company was the subject of a Channel Four Dispatches documentary in 2017 which alleged that workers in Boohoo’s warehouse were allegedly being punished for smiling, checking their mobile, being a few minutes late or mistakenly mixing up trolleys of stock.

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Speaking about the latest allegations, Justin Madders, Labour's shadow minister for employment rights and protections, described the claims as “shocking”.

He said: “The government has repeatedly failed to deliver their promised Employment Bill to tackle conditions in warehouses run like Victorian workhouses.”

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham was contacted by the Burnley Express for his view on the latest allegations but has not responded.