Success story: Boohoo end years of secrecy over factory locations

Success story: Boohoo end years of secrecy over factory locations

 Success: Boohoo   end years of 
 factory locations 

Campaign win – what you know you can change

Reports of illegal working conditions in Leicester factories have been coming to light since 2015 and Labour Behind the Label started to build networks and collaborate with community groups and unions on the ground in Leicester in 2018.

During the COVID pandemic our work came to a head, when we published reports about worker exploitation in Leicester factories, illegal pay, unsafe conditions and poor brand purchasing leading to exploitation. A series of news exposes of Boohoo’s supply chain followed, many of which we worked on in collaboration with journalists.

Activists put up subvertising posters in Manchester near Boohoo’s HQ around Black Friday of that year, and sent postcards and emails. Campaigning around Black Friday 2020 took place online with a subvertising Instagram deluge to call on the brand to act.

This coincided with Labour Behind the Label doing some political work and Boohoo was called to report to a UK Parliamentary committee and asked about publishing their supplier locations. At this hearing they committed to publish within a year. Under media pressure Boohoo initiated an enquiry with Allison Levitt QC who looked into problems in Boohoo’s supply chain and published an independent enquiry. Sir Brian Leveson was also then hired to lead a programme of change based on the enquiry’s findings. In September 2021 Boohoo’s supplier list was finally published ending years of secrecy about its factories.

How did we win? 

What campaigners did: Put up subvertising posters on ad boards near Boohoo’s office, sent postcards and an online petition, and spammed Boohoo’s social media channels with messages including a big push on Black Friday to create hundreds of photos of Boohoo models with speech bubbles calling on Boohoo to act. 

What LBL staff did: Wrote to and met with Boohoo, published a report about their factories in Leicester, worked with journalists to publish exposes in the news, worked with politicians and submitted questions to a government enquiry who eventually called the owner of Boohoo to attend and give evidence about exploitation in Boohoo factories.

The result: Boohoo initiated an enquiry led by Allison Levitt QC into what was happening in its factories, then hired Sir Brian Leveson to lead a programme of change to combat poor conditions and low pay. It also published its list of supplier factories ending years of secrecy.  

Success story: Jeans brands ban sandblasted denim

Success story: Jeans brands ban sandblasted denim

 Success: Jeans 
 sandblasted denim 

Campaign win – worker safety increased

After hearing from partners in Turkey that workers were dying due to a denim process that makes jeans look worn out, Labour Behind the Label launched the Killer Jeans campaign calling on brands and retailers to ban ‘sandblasting’ used to fade and distress denim. This process is linked to the fatal lung disease called silicosis, caused by excessive dust particles in the lungs leading to infection.

As well as publishing new research about denim, and having activists insert messages into the pockets of jeans in shops, we held a funeral march outside Dolce & Gabbana where we marched a coffin to their store, laid flowers and read out the names of people who had died from silicosis after sandblasting jeans. We worked with journalists on a number of media reports also in national UK newspapers.

This action alongside other international efforts resulted in many high street companies supporting public bans on the process for their products, including Levis, H&M, New Look, M&S and more, and eventually a national ban for all of Turkey was issued by the Turkish government.

How did we win? 

What campaigners did: Put little messages in the pockets of jeans in shops telling brands to ban sandblasting, held a funeral service outside Dolce & Gabbana’s Central London store to highlight the deaths linked to sandblasting jeans, and took part in online and postcard actions to pressure UK high street brands to ban sandblasted denim

What LBL staff did: We produced two reports, and series of photos about sandblasted denim proving the link between sandblasting and worker death due to the lung disease silicosis. This was covered in a number of major news outlets in the UK, and across Europe. We worked with the Italian Clean Clothes Campaign to lobby D&G, coordinating action with campaign groups in 10 European countries.

The result: Many high street names and luxury brands issued a ban on sandblasted denim or agreed to phase it out over time.

Success story: Burmese workers win payout from Tesco

Success story: Burmese workers win payout from Tesco

 Success: Burmese 
 workers win 

 £80k pay out from 

Campaign win – a Thai success story

For two years a group of Burmese migrant workers were illegally paid less than a dollar an hour, were forced to work unpaid overtime, and had their holiday pay withheld at the Kanlayanee factory in Mae Sot, Thailand. It was a supplier to Tesco, Disney, Starbucks and NBC Universal.

In Sept 2019, the Kanlayanee workers bravely spoke out to a journalist to stop the labour abuses. A few weeks later, the factory suddenly closed after Starbucks cancelled orders, leaving the workers with nothing. The former Kanlayanee workers fought for justice demanding that they receive the money they were legally owed for making products. The workers were blacklisted as a result, leaving them unable to find alternative work.

After we took up the case, Tesco was the first brand to agree to pay and other American companies followed suit after global campaigns pressured them all to contribute to the pot. The success of this wage theft case set a global precedent for other brands to follow in terms of brand accountability in an industry where migrant labour is rife and workers are often more vulnerable to exploitation through lack of access to advice and legal support. We are proud to have supported the workers in this case.

How did we win? 

What campaigners did: You took part in online action to lobby Tesco including hundreds sending tweets, and collectively commenting on facebook posts, calling for Tesco to act.

What LBL staff did: We raised the case with Tesco staff, lobbied and phoned on multiple occasions, and took part in a case group with others around to world to coordinate pressure on all brands at the factory, including Starbucks, NBC Universal and Disney.

The result: Tesco paid their share of £80,000 in compensation to Burmese migrant workers who had been scammed out of their pay by bosses, which led to other brands (Disney, Starbucks and NBC Universal) eventually also contributing to the pot and ensuring workers received their full compensation that was legally owed to them.

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