Online fashion retailer Boohoo has refused to allow trade union representatives to discuss recognition for employees, The Guardian has reported.
This is despite founder Carol Kane telling MPs at an environmental audit committee focusing on sustainability that she would allow union recognition in the company’s distribution centre in Burnley.
The union Usdaw said the company had rejected six months of attempts to start union recognition discussions.
At the environmental audit committee, which took place in February, Kane stressed that the company had an employee forum and said it would recognise a union if there was demand from workers.
In written evidence to the committee, Boohoo said it was not aware of the existence of unions in its supply chain – around half of its low-price clothing is produced in UK factories. Usdaw disputed this, describing 23 exercises it had conducted for Boohoo workers and contacts it had attempted with managers.
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Boohoo employs more than 3,000 people at the Burnley distribution centre and is one of the town’s biggest employers.
Mary Creagh, the Labour MP who chairs the environmental audit committee, told The Guardian: “Our inquiry into the fashion industry uncovered widespread labour exploitation in the UK garment industry with workers being systematically underpaid and working long hours in unsafe factories.
“We are very disappointed to hear that Ms Kane is not engaging with Usdaw, despite our recommendation that she and others do so as a priority. We will be writing to her to ask why this dialogue has not progressed since she appeared in front of us.”
In a statement, Boohoo said: “Listening to the views and opinions of our team has always been a core part of our philosophy, which is why we have our employee engagement forum, Your Voice, which has been running for five years.
“As we have previously stated to Usdaw, we are consulting with our team with regards to their interest in meeting with a union and these conversations are ongoing.”