Burnley's biggest employer Boohoo slammed as 'shameful' for refusing to recognise union

Boohoo's Burnley site
Boohoo's Burnley site

Burnley's biggest private sector employer Boohoo has been accused of blocking union recognition, despite a recommendation from Parliament.

The online retail giant, which employs around 1,000 people at its site in Widow Hill Road, was described as "shameful" by union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) which says it is 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 which alleged that workers in Boohoo’s warehouse are allegedly being punished for smiling, checking their mobile, being a few minutes late or mistakenly mixing up trolleys of stock.

The latest controversy comes after a cross-party MPs’ report into fashion industry sustainability specifically recommended that Boohoo recognises Usdaw as the union for their staff.

The company's continued refusal to do so has led Usdaw to organise a day of action on Friday in Burnley town centre, outside the Boohoo warehouse in Widow Hill Road and also at its Manchester base.

Mike Aylward, Usdaw divisional officer, said: “Boohoo makes some pretty bold statements about ethical trading, but when it comes to giving their staff a voice through an independent trade union they are found wanting.

"Ethical trading isn’t just about checking the terms and conditions of workers in the supply chain, as important as that is, it’s also about ensuring Boohoo’s directly employed staff are treated with dignity and respect.

“MPs listened to Usdaw’s evidence that countered Boohoo’s assertion that there was no demand for union recognition and we welcomed the recommendation for the company to engage with us as a priority, but the company continues to decline to engage.

“It is shameful that big companies like Boohoo, the largest private sector employer in Burnley, won’t recognise Usdaw. Our members are unhappy with Boohoo’s position and want Usdaw’s support in raising and resolving workplace issues.

“Boohoo staff should be allowed to speak for themselves, directly to Usdaw, and not have the company make statements on their behalf. Management claims that staff do not want a trade union is not correct. Our members working in Boohoo tell us that they want the peace of mind that trade union membership offers, alongside a recognition agreement.

“Usdaw’s campaign continues until Boohoo listens to reason, listens our members and listens the cross-party committee of MPs.”

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said: “We recommend that Boohoo engage with Usdaw as a priority and recognise unions for its workers.”