Boohoo workers say warehouse is a 'breeding ground for coronavirus'

Workers describe Boohoo warehouse in Sheffield where 25 people were infected as a ‘breeding ground for coronavirus’ and say many arrive for shifts in ‘packed cars’ because it saves on transport

  • Father-of-two, 51, said he came in with a fever, constipation and bad back
  • The factory in Sheffield has been investigated by local authorities due to virus
  • Under-fire Boohoo has had more than £1billion wiped off its value 

Workers have described a Boohoo warehouse in Sheffield where 25 people were infected with coronavirus as a ‘breeding ground’ for the disease.

Speaking under condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, employees at the centre also revealed how staff would arrive in ‘packed cars’ to save on transport costs.

And a video published on social media on March 26 shows employees standing close together in hi-vis jackets at the warehouse, in apparent breach of social distancing rules.

This is the second time a warehouse connected to Boohoo has been embroiled in allegations of mistreating its workers after reports surfaced that a centre in Leicester was paying employees £3.50 an hour, less than half the minimum wage.

More than £1billion was wiped from the company’s share price as it nose-dived by more than 25 per cent.

The price has so far failed to recover to its July 3 height of £387.50 per share.

Boohoo workers have described the factory in Tinsley, Sheffield, as a ‘breeding ground’ for the virus with employees arriving in ‘packed cars’

And a video published on social media in March shows workers at the factory all standing close together, in apparent breach of social distancing. MP for the area Clive Betts says he has received 50 complaints from workers in relation to the factory

A father-of-two working at the Sheffield warehouse has revealed to the Sunday Times that he had to keep coming in to drag boxes of women’s shoes, handbags and dresses despite having a fever, constipation and a bad back.

The 51-year-old, who is one of the individuals to test positive for the virus, said: ‘I needed to put food on the table for my kids. I knew there was a risk in continuing to work.

‘I caught it from the warehouse,’ he said. ‘There’s no way I should have been working. How is distributing cheap women’s fashion essential?’

He also revealed how his wife’s breathing became laboured and their 12-year-old son became lethargic. They have also tested positive for Covid-19.

Clive Betts, local MP for the area, says he has a database of as many as 50 workers who raised concerns about their safety at the warehouse during the lockdown.

He said complaints started coming in eight days after lockdown, with some saying they felt as though their lives were at risk.

The warehouse in Sheffield was investigated by Sheffield City council and Public Health England. Under-fire Boohoo has had £1 billion wiped off its share price

The Sheffield warehouse is a distribution centre for the online-only women’s brand and operated by a third-party firm called Clipper. No clothes are made at the centre.

The warehouse was investigated by Sheffield city council and Public Health England between April and June, after they recognised it as a coronavirus hotspot.

But they found that it had taken ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure workers safety.

Staff at the centre are from Poland, Romania, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Sudan.

An undercover investigation at a warehouse in Leicester used by Boohoo by the Sunday Times also revealed there were no additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place at the height of the pandemic. 

It triggered visits from seven different agencies to the centre, including Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire City council and Immigration enforcement.

The city is currently in local lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

The reports follow allegations that its factory in Leicester pays workers £3.50 an hour, less than half the minimum wage

Clipper and Boohoo told the Sunday Times that all government guidance had been followed.

‘The warehouse has been inspected a number of times by Public Health England and Sheffield city council and has been approved each time,’ Clipper said.

In response to the video published in March of workers standing together, Boohoo’s chief executive John Lyttle said: ‘I want to reassure you that we took immediate action when this was brought to our attention.’

In response to the Sunday Times’ Leicester factory investigation, Boohoo hired a top lawyer to look into reports that its factories were making people work below minimum wage and breaching safety rules.

The under-fire brand said it was ‘shocked and appalled’ before alleging it had found ‘some inaccuracies’ with the reports. 

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