Online fashion retailer ASOS announced today that it will be introducing 1,500 jobs in the UK in the next three years despite recent accusations of workers’ exploitation.
The announcement follows just days after trade union GMB protested outside ASOS’ London office against alleged ill treatment of warehouse staff in Yorkshire.
In a statement to Westminster World today, the union comments that there are “seemingly huge differences between conditions for staff at London HQ and for Yorkshire workers” calling out on the online retailer for “ignoring” the “shocking” working conditions at its Barnsley warehouse.
— GMB Union (@GMB_union) December 2, 2016
— TradesUnionCongress (@The_TUC) December 2, 2016
“We welcome the announcement of 1,500 new jobs at ASOS but not when GMB’s concerns for the workers in Yorkshire have been completely ignored,” said Neil Derrick, GMB Yorkshire regional secretary. “The company’s growth is on back of workers in their Yorkshire warehouse, yet there seems to be a huge disparity between how ASOS staff in London and workers in Yorkshire are treated,” he added.
Labour MP Iain Wright, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee called for an investigation by Parliament into ASOS’ controversial “flex” contract in January. Mr Wright’s announcement in September was in response to investigative reports by BBC and Buzzfeed News.
— Jo Stevens MP (@JoStevensLabour) September 29, 2016
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) December 1, 2016
Both the BBC and Buzzfeed News have reported that ASOS warehouse workers have been discouraged from drinking water or using toilets in order to meet the company’s high productivity demands that to “pick” and “pack” between 160 – 170 items per hour. Staff have also claimed of being laid off an assignment after falling ill on the job or taking leave. ASOS’ “flex” system does not guarantee workers a fixed amount of hours. Instead, staff are required to work on-demand, up to 100 hours per week, and can be dismissed with a two-hour notice according to VICE News.
Following the controversial reports, ASOS’ CEO Nick Beighton wrote an open letter expressing that he was “dismayed by the comments in the media on working conditions in our warehouse”, calling the comments “inaccurate” and “misleading”. (Read the open letter here.)