Fashion firm under fire over ‘unconscionable’ shift demands

A fresh row has erupted at online fashion retailer boohoo after workers at the firm’s warehouse in Northamptonshire lodged a collective grievance over “unconscionable” shift demands.

Over 200 employees at the site in Crick, near Daventry, have joined forces to oppose new shift patterns which would leave workers with “only one weekend off in every five”, according to Unite – claims the company denies.

The union said the new regime would also leave staff with fragmented single days off.

A 45-day consultation period launched by the firm has been described as a “sham” by employees.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The shift patterns proposed for boohoo’s Crick warehouse are completely unacceptable in a modern society. People are not machines and deserve to able to spend time with their families, rest and have a life outside of work.

“This is a serious step backwards for a company whose reputation was left in tatters over the terrible treatment of workers just a few years ago. Unite defends our members’ jobs, pay and conditions to the hilt and boohoo’s Crick workforce will be receiving their union’s complete support in their fight against these unconscionable shift demands.”

Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for boohoo insisted it was “not correct” to say the proposed shift patterns would leave workers with only one weekend off in every five.

The spokesperson told “To ensure the long-term strength of our operations, we are proposing to amend shift patterns at our Daventry warehouse. We are conducting a consultation on the proposed change, throughout which employees’ views are aired and considered in the appropriate forum. As a business, we do not formally recognise a union, but our employees are free to join a union individually.”

Unite said workers had been asked by management not to join a union.

Sean Kettle, Unite regional officer, said boohoo “must allow Unite access to the Crick site to organise and represent workers to negotiate ethical and fair shift patterns.”

In December 2020, boohoo was forced to cut ties with 64 garment manufacturers in the UK after it emerged exploited workers producing clothes sold by the brand were being paid as little as £3.50 an hour.

The company says its shift proposals are “in line with [its] focus to improve its overall operational performance.”