Employees in Britain, who work tirelessly to provide clothing for fast fashion retailers such as River Island, New Look, Boohoo, and Missguided are being paid less than half of minimum wage. To be exact, these manufacturers, Fashion Square Ltd and United Creations Ltd, have being paying their employees an amount between 3 pounds ($3.74) and 3.5 pounds ($4.36) per hour. Meanwhile, the hourly rate for the national living wage in Britain is 7.20 pounds ($8.97) for workers 25 years and older.
Thanks to an undercover reporter from Britain’s Channel 4, who was employed by Fashion Square to label clothes for River Island, we know that the hourly wage was a mere 3 pounds. In fact, the reporter recorded one of his bosses complaining about the competition with Asian exporters, which is what motivated the company to pay its workers so little. The manager reportedly said “we don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh. If we pay everyone 10 pounds or 6 pounds then we will [be at] a loss.”
Both Fashion Square and United Creations denied allegations of such practices. Additionally, River Island told Channel 4 that it is no longer working with Fashion Square.
The same reporter has also alleged that another Leicester-based factory, which produced clothes for New Look, paid its employees 3.5 pounds per hour and Boohoo and Missguide’s supplier, United Creations, paid 3.25 pounds ($4.05) per hour.
Remember our earlier post about Greenwashing? Well, there seems to be a similar trend here, with a labour law twist. According to Thomson Reuters (which is the same company that featured us, by the way!), “a New Look spokesperson said the company reduced the number of U.K. suppliers by 80 percent since 2011 in an effort to address potential weaknesses in the supply chain. The company said it terminated their relationship with the company that subcontracted the orders. Boohoo told Channel 4 it was in talks with United Creations to make sure workers were paid at least the minimum wage, while Missguided said it launched an internal investigation into the allegations.” But, we are skeptical due to the uncertain outcomes of such efforts.
While both Fashion Square and United Creations have denied their abhorrent practices, River Island did not immediately respond to Thomson Reuters for a comment.
We get it, companies need to make a profit to remain viable, but this should not result in taking advantage of their employees. This practice is certainly not chic.