Fast fashion ladies, empty your internet shopping carts. It seems like every day presents another fast fashion scandal, whether that's H&M's working conditions or Zara stealing art from independent artists. This time, the alleged culprit is online retailer ASOS, also known as the only place to get a decent looking cocktail dress for under $100.
In a letter to Iain Wright, head of Parliament's Business Committee, UK politician (and would-be Labour leader) Owen Smith called for an investigation into the business of Asos Plc. The note concerns a warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, according to Bloomberg.
According to the MP, recent discussions with the union leaders resulted in claims of employees arriving at work for their shift only to be told their hours had been cancelled. Staff reportedly aren't always granted access to basic bathroom facilities and get searched at random.
If it sounds like a scary work environment to you, you're not alone. Smith said he's afraid ASOS might be the “next Sports Direct,” referencing a chain recently cited for poor work environment and unfair employee conditions.
For its part, ASOS isn't standing for Smith's claims. The brand told Vogue UK Smith's claim "was the first we had heard from him” and added that "he's never been inside the warehouse." Notably, the brand was also accused of treating its workers badly in 2015, by both its union and Vice.
The ASOS spokesperson added,
As we have now said on the record several times before — we don't do zero-hours contracts, people can take toilet and water breaks whenever they want, and we pay above minimum wage.
Will we have to give up our online shopping habits in favor of a fairer brand, one that treats employees with more basic respect? That remains to be seen, so stay tuned for updates on the claims.
Citations: Business of Fashion