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Senior Tory accuses fashion giant Boohoo of 'turning a blind eye' to illegal working claim in UK factories

MPs have hit out at the fashion giant

2 min read

MPs have accused fashion giant Boohoo of “turning a blind eye” to allegations of illegal working practices in its UK factories.

Philip Dunne, the Conservative chair of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, challenged claims by the major fashion retailer that it was unaware of poor working conditions in its supply chain.

And he called their response to recent allegations "incredible".

Boohoo has seen its share price tumble following reports that workers in some of its supplier factories in Leicester were being paid significantly less than the UK minimum wage and working in illegal conditions.

The firm said it had been "shocked and appalled" by the reports and had hired a QC to look into the claims.

But in a letter to Boohoo's executive director and group executive, Mr Dunne said it was "shameful" that it took the coronavirus pandemic to trigger a response from the firm.

And the committee chair hit out at the firm for saying they had only just made aware of the issue, with his committee sounding the alarm in a 2019 report.

"Boohoo Group's co-founder and then Chief Executive Carol Kane appeared before the Committee to discuss its buying practices, discount prices and the links it may have to illegally low pay in Leicester garment factories," he said.

"We therefore find it incredible that the Boohoo board is reportedly "shocked" by the recent allegations over labour exploitation and poor working conditions with then Leicester garment industry."

Meanwhile, the Tory MP said it was "disappointing" that the firm has not formally recognised a trade union or signed up to the Ethical Trading Initiative aimed at safe-guarding workers.

"It is incredible that over a year since the Committee highlighted illegal working practices in its supply chain, Boohoo has publicly denied any knowledge of what has been happening for years," he added.

"Last year Boohoo told us that it was going to join the ETI. We note it has not done so.

"It is shameful that it took a pandemic and the ensuing outrage about working practices in their supply chain for Boohoo finally to be taken to task for turning a blind eye.

"I have today asked a number of questions to discover what the company is doing to protect its workers and to ask whether any environmental standards have been adopted to lessen the impact of fast fashion on our environment."

A spokesperson for Boohoo said: “We acknowledge that we received a letter from the EAC [on Wednesday] afternoon and we will of course be responding in due course.”

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