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Asos responses to scathing investigation with own report

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - Asos has set out to set the record straight following an investigation released by BuzzFeed and calls from MPs for a parliamentary inquiry into working practices at its global distribution facility in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The online news medium previously accused the online retailer and its partner XPO Logistics of setting overly high targets for its warehouse employees leading to stressful working conditions and insufficient time for water or bathroom breaks, enforcing an overbearing security regime, poor management and exploitative contracts. This in turn led to MP Iain Wright, chair of the business select committee, demanding that Asos be included in a broader parliamentary inquiry into working practices in the UK, set to take place next January.

Asos aims to set the record straight concerning the truth of what goes down at its Barnsley warehouse

Although BuzzFeed now argues that its investigation has led to Asos making a series of changes to workers contracts at Barnsley, the online pure-player has hit back at the news outlet. “I’m disappointed that inaccurate and misleading things have been said about how we manage our warehouse at Barnsley in Yorkshire,” said Nick Beighton, CEO at Asos in a statement. “We want every single person who works with Asos directly, or for one of our partners, to have a great experience and feel respected and valued. Where we’ve been able, we have tried to set the record straight, but some misrepresentation continues.”

“I lead the Asos management team so I know how seriously we take our responsibilities as an employer. I take huge exception to the idea that we are secretive and exploit our people. We have nothing to hide and much to be proud of,” continued Beighton. “I want the facts to speak for themselves. We don’t pretend to be perfect and we are learning all the time. We learn, re-set and go again. That’s the way we do things at Asos.” The online retailer released its own summery on Wednesday which highlights why they opened their warehouse in Barnsley, its current policies and practices and how they have invested in the facility over the years.

For example, Asos has invested a total of 81 million pounds in its facility in Barnsley since its opening in 2011, as part of a rolling programme to improve the workplace and aims to invest an addition 23 million pounds over the next 12 months. This includes investment in automated processes to benefit the workers. Asos stresses in its summary that they are proud of their 4,000 workers at Barnsley and do their best to make it a local community. However, despite concerted efforts to unionise the warehouse over the last 5 years, the union has failed to reach the needed percentage of membership of their workforce which is why Asos currently has its Employees Forum in place, noted the retailer.

Asos hits back against "false accusations" from BuzzFeed

“I’ve worked at Barnsley for five and half years and it means a lot to me that I’ve been elected to represent my colleagues. This campaign by the GMB to spread false information has been going on for years and we are all tired of it,” commented Terry Green, the annually elected Chairman of the worker’s committee. “We are part of a team where proper training is given, new incentives are being brought in regularly, and the building we are working in has gone from strength to strength. It is insulting and annoying for all of us to continue reading things that are so untrue, and so different than what our day to day reality is.”

Asos added that they welcome any dialogue from politicians and the government in regards to low paid workers and noted they currently pay all employees above the National Living Wage, do no use zero hour contracts and do not reduce benefits to make up for the increase in its wages. The fashion retailer is said to pay a premium of 20 percent for night shift workers and productivity bonuses for employees who achieve their targets. In addition, Asos also pointed out break time is not counted as productive time, all toilets and water points are within a 4 minute walk from anywhere in the warehouse, performance targets are set at industry standard rates and reviewed.

“I hope this helps everyone to appreciate that at Asos we have nothing to hide and are committed 100 percent to being a good employer,” concluded Beighton. “On behalf of all our people, we resent the misleading things that have been said about us. That we care about our people is beyond doubt and I’d like to thank every single one of them.”

Photos: Asos Corporate

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