In a startling revelation uncovered by a BBC investigation, employees at MM Leicester Clothing Ltd, a UK-based supplier for the fashion giant Boohoo, were reportedly coerced into working overtime. This alarming situation, highlighted in the Tuesday, 7th November 2023, edition of The Independent, underscores critical issues within the labour sector and raises concerns about workers’ rights violations.
The investigation, spearheaded by the renowned investigative programme Panorama, brought to light footage from within MM Leicester Clothing Ltd. It showed a supervisor unequivocally ordering the workforce to continue beyond their scheduled shifts. The directive came despite workers’ requests to leave at their regular time, citing family responsibilities. One employee recounted being told, “No one is leaving at eight, or ten, or later,” painting a grim picture of the working conditions.
These claims of ‘forced overtime’ have been a cause for major concern, as articulated by Dominique Muller, Policy Director at Labour Behind the Label. Muller expressed dismay, stating, “That type of behaviour, to do forced overtime, was supposed to be a thing of the past.” This sentiment reflects a wider social expectation that exploitative labour practices should no longer be a part of modern work environments.
Responding to these serious allegations, a spokesperson for Boohoo highlighted the company’s immediate action. They confirmed that an investigation was initiated upon receiving the initial allegations against MM Leicester Clothing Ltd. The spokesperson assured that Boohoo would continue to scrutinize the supplier following the Panorama programme’s revelations.
Boohoo’s relationship with its suppliers is governed by a strict Code of Conduct, which expressly forbids forced overtime. The spokesperson reiterated that while Boohoo does not dictate the working hours of its suppliers, any breach of this code is taken seriously. Actions taken in response to such breaches could range from corrective measures to responsibly terminating the relationship with the supplier in question.
MM Leicester Clothing Ltd had undergone both internal and external independent audits, including regular, unannounced checks. These measures are part of the rigorous onboarding process for all Boohoo suppliers. However, the recent findings indicate that despite these checks, issues around labour practices persist.
The Workers Union Says…
“This incident at MM Leicester Clothing Ltd raises significant questions about the efficacy of current auditing and compliance processes in the fashion industry. It underscores the need for more stringent oversight and accountability to ensure that workers’ rights are not just theoretical assurances but actual realities in the workplace. It highlights the need for continuous vigilance and proactive measures to safeguard the dignity and rights of workers in all sectors.”