Trade union GMB has called on the department of business, innovation and skills (BIS) select committee to look into allegations of unfair working conditions at Asos, following a three-month investigation by Buzzfeed News. Asos has firmly disputed the claims.
Buzzfeed has alleged that staff at the etailer’s Barnsley distribution centre, which is run by XPO Logistics, are subjected to hot working conditions, frequent security searches and high levels of surveillance.
It also said staff were reluctant to take breaks to drink water or use the toilet because of high-pressure targets to process a certain volume of orders every hour.
GMB’s regional secretary Neil Derrick said: “These reports show that employment at Asos is not only stressful, invasive, and deeply exploitative, but is also hazardous to workers’ health.
“GMB calls on the business select committee to investigate these incidents as a matter of urgency before any more harm can be done to the workforce at Asos.”
A spokeswoman from Asos responded: ”There have been a number of allegations about the working conditions at our warehouse in Barnsley that are inaccurate, misleading or based on out of date information. This upsets us, but more importantly, it upsets the people who work there.
“Those who seek to portray the warehouse as an awful place to work never mention the positive work we do in conjunction with XPO, like the 50 different learning and development programs offered, free mental health support and awareness training, subsidised food in a newly renovated canteen, or the £3m spent on a cooling system to keep the temperature down during the summer.
“Ultimately, Asos and XPO both care deeply about our people and that’s why we have chosen to partner with them.”
A spokeswoman from XPO added: ”We are disappointed that false allegations continue to be made about the Barnsley warehouse. It is our mission to create a safe and healthy environment and we have an independently elected colleague forum in place to ensure we are maintaining these standards.
”To correct the record, performance is not based on the number of comfort breaks an employee may take. We are also fully compliant with the national minimum wage and national living wage, and do not employ anyone in our warehouses on a zero-hours contract. We invited the independent public body ACAS to review our annualised hours scheme before we implemented it and were met with approval.
“We are incredibly proud that over the last two years we have created close to 600 new jobs in Barnsley. The wellbeing of the team working in Barnsley is very important to us. As such, we have an onsite occupational nurse, a physiotherapist and have recently invested £3m in a cooling project to improve temperatures in the warehouse during the summer period.”
The BIS committee said it had no comment to make at present.