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Wednesday 19th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

GMB union calls on the fashion retailer to respect workers following allegations of exploitation

ASOS announced a whopping 37 per cent increase in profits yesterday following allegations of shocking exploitation of 4,000 workers at its warehouse.

The fashion retailer was exposed in June for running a brutal management regime in which workers were subjected to body searches, denied toilet breaks and forced to urinate at water points because there was no time to walk to the toilet.

The online firm has also been using agency workers on zero-hours contracts — meaning they do not know from one day to the next whether there will be any work for them.

Now the company has reported £63.7 million profits, up 37 per cent compared with last year’s £46.1m, with sales growing 26 per cent to £1.4 billion — helped by a 50 per cent rise in US revenue.

In Britain and Europe, sales ballooned 27 and 28 per cent respectively. General union GMB has been campaigning since August 2015 to unionise the workforce to improve their working conditions and tackle the regime of bullying.

GMB Yorkshire regional secretary Neil Derrick said: “We’re seeing a familiar story play out — massive profits for those at the top, made on the back of poor pay, terms and conditions for those making ‘fast fashion’ a reality.

“Asos are quite literally coining it, while agency workers worry whether they’ll get enough hours next week to pay the bills.”

“We’re simply asking Asos to treat the people who keep their warehouses moving with a bit of respect — that can’t be too much to ask in the 21st century.

“If Asos bosses are serious about providing fashion with integrity — which is one of their slogans — then they can make sure their working conditions are fair, that wages and contracts mean people can live a decent life and that no-one is subject to oppressive security and surveillance measures just for doing their jobs.”

Asos operates from a huge warehouse built on the site of the former Grimethorpe colliery in Yorkshire.

The retailer branded the accusations “inaccurate and misleading.

It said: “Contrary to what has been alleged, we do currently pay above the national living wage for all employees and are committed to migrating towards the living wage foundation level over the next 18 months.

“We do not use, and have never used, zero-hours contracts.”

But Business, Innovation and Skills select committee chairman Iain Wright, who led the inquiry into the notorious working conditions at Sports Direct, has pledged to investigate.

Asos also said it is sprucing up the warehouse, pumping £20 million into building a gym, training rooms and a wellbeing suite in order to “further enhance facilities for our people who work there.”