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Labour Behind the Label

19

Nov 19

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boohoo sells dresses for as little as £4, a price that is too good to be true. With prices this low it is unlikely that the workers making their clothes will have fair wages and be free from exploitation. boohoo won’t tell us which factories produce their clothes, so the human cost behind the price tag remains hidden.  We are calling on boohoo to publish their supply chain and tell us about the working conditions and wages behind their low-cost clothing. 

Tell boohoo to #GoTransparent

Dear John Lyttle CEO,

boohoo is projected to hit a turnover of £1.1 billion in 2019, yet you have offered no proof that the workers in your garment factories are paid enough to live with dignity and support their families.

Transparency supports ethical improvement and encourages garment factories worldwide to uphold human rights. Transparency and public reporting are vital steps towards making your brand ethical.

Unlike many other UK brands, boohoo has not yet published a supplier factory list. I want boohoo to take the first step in improving human rights in its supply chain by signing the Transparency Pledge and publishing on its website, on a regular basis, a list naming all sites that manufacture its products.

The list should be in a spreadsheet or other searchable format and provide the following information in English (see cleanclothes.org/transparency/transparency-pledge for requirements):

1. The full name of all authorised production units and processing facilities.
2. The site addresses.
3. The parent company of the business at the site.
4. Type of products made.
5. The number and gender of workers at each site.

Sharing this data will support the monitoring and remediation of abuses in your supply chain and encourage human rights to be upheld in garment factories worldwide.

Do let me know what you plan to do.
Yours truly,

**your signature**

1,359 signatures = 91% of goal
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1,500

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Cheap fashion with a high human cost

boohoo is part of the fast fashion industry which pumps out hundreds of new collections at rock bottom prices. A constant supply of cheap new fashion means that on average, items of clothing are discarded after only five weeks.

Whilst shoppers pay low prices for boohoo clothing, workers who make the clothes feel the real cost. boohoo produces numerous small batches of clothes and sells them quickly online, before ramping up production of popular lines. This quick turnaround means that around half of boohoo’s production takes place in UK garment factories, many in Leicester, minimising transportation times.  The National Living Wage in the UK is £8.21 per hour, whilst the Living Wage Foundation sets it as £9 per hour. How can boohoo pay workers a fair wage for making a dress which is sold for only £4?

Exposes by Channel 4 Dispatches and The Daily Mirror have found that workers in UK garment factories are regularly paid less than half the minimum wage. Research by the Ethical Trading Initiative and the University of Leicester have found that it’s common for workers in Leicester to be paid illegal wages. 

As well as the UK, boohoo’s top sourcing countries include China, India and Turkey. Without knowing which factories boohoo source from, pay and conditions for boohoo’s workers are cloaked in secrecy. We do however know that the norm for workers throughout the global garment industry is poverty pay, unsafe working conditions, and excessive overtime.

 

Empty words?

boohoo claims on its website, that it ‘acknowledges its responsibility to ensure that all products are manufactured under safe and comfortable conditions and in an ethical manner.’ Without transparency, these are just words without substance. Until they release their supplier list, we have no way of checking their claims.

Why do we need to know who makes our clothes?

Garment supply chains are hugely complex, and brands often hide where their clothes are made. Unsafe working conditions, extremely low wages and suppression of unions is found in most factories and workshops. A lack of publicly available information on the supply chains of major companies is a significant barrier to the improvement of human rights. As long as the connection between working conditions and the brands is kept hidden, no one can be sure that companies are meeting their responsibilities to identify and take action to prevent human rights abuses in their supply chains.

Knowledge is power, and publicly available information about supply chains of major companies can go a long way towards improving human rights. Not only does transparency help workers claim their rights but it also helps hold companies to account for their promises and enable consumers to make informed choices. In the last few years as transparency in supplier factories worldwide has increased, respect and protection for worker rights has become more possible.

How can you help?

1. Sign our petition

We need your help to make sure that the workers producing our clothes are paid a living wage and have safe working conditions. Sign our petition today to ask boohoo to publish its factory list and #GoTransparent.

2. Share our poster

Help us to raise awareness about why transparency is vital to ensure that human rights are upheld in the fashion industry. Download a poster HERE, and put it up in your university, college, local shopping centre or library.  We would love to know how far our poster travels. Tweet us a picture if you see one! #GoTransparent.

3. Take to social media

Take to social media and let @boohoo know you want it to #GoTransparent. Keeping supply chains secret hides exploitation and illegal wages in the fashion industry.