Usdaw, the trade union for workers at the Boohoo warehouse in Burnley, has condemned the online retailer for marketing new face masks as a fashion item.

Usdaw has consistently raised deep concerns about Boohoo staff at risk because of inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and failures to reorganise working practices to ensure necessary social distancing.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We have been inundated with serious concerns from our members in the Burnley warehouse about their health and safety during the Coronavirus outbreak. They are terrified they may become infected with coronavirus and put their loved ones at risk. Today’s news that the company is marketing fashion face masks, that experts say are absolutely no use as PPE, is a real slap in the face for our members.

“Selling fashion clothing is not essential in a period of national emergency, but selling items that look like essential equipment is downright scandalous. We share the disgust that healthcare staff have expressed in the media. At a time when they are desperate for PPE, along with many public facing staff delivering essential services, Boohoo should hang their heads in shame for this despicable stunt.

“Many other clothes manufacturers have turned away from their usual production and switched to making proper PPE items to help our heroes on the frontline of tackling the Coronavirus emergency. Boohoo is looking to make a quick profit out of a crisis, when they should be putting the national interest first by helping their staff to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“We again call on the Government to review their advice to online non-essential retailers. Problems like this occur because contradictory Government advice encourages online retailers to carry on regardless, while telling non-essential workers to stay at home.

“Usdaw’s North West Divisional Officer Mike Aylward has written to Boohoo several times calling for them to close the warehouse for the safety of their employees and their families. To do the right thing by furloughing workers, under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and to top up the 80% grant so that staff continue to receive their full wages as normal. Today, following this disgraceful development, I too am writing to the company and the Government demanding urgent action.”


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