You can read 9 more articles this month
THOUSANDS of workers at a huge warehouse used by online retailer Asos are being subjected to a catalogue of abuse by their anti-union bosses, a Morning Star investigation can reveal today.
More than 4,000 employees of the hugely popular clothing store suffer regular body searches, are spied on by an increasing number of CCTV cameras and even made to remove their shoes and socks if they trigger a security alarm when they leave work.
Workers at the distribution centre in Yorkshire must go through a security check when they go to the loo, with guards posted outside toilets and at a canteen area.
Employees at the firm have had to urinate at water stations because toilets were a 15-minute walk away.
And workers are also subjected to “flexi” shifts where they can be told not to turn in for work, or to work extra hours without notice.
Union GMB is campaigning to organise the workforce as a first step towards improving conditions and wages at the company, but Asos refuses to recognise the union.
This month GMB will make a symbolic stand, declaring its campaign will continue by “sponsoring” a traffic roundabout outside the road entry to the warehouse.
GMB union hoardings will be formally unveiled on June 17 by GMB general secretary Tim Roache and TUC Yorkshire and Humber region secretary Bill Adams, representing growing solidarity from the trade union movement with exploited Asos workers.
The Asos warehouse is in Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, once at the heart of the region’s coalmining industry.
One worker, who cannot be named for fear of being sacked, told the Morning Star how Asos operates the “flexitime” system under which workers can be texted in the morning and told they are not needed and will not be paid, or told at work that their shift is being extended.
“I set off at 8.30am to start work at 10am,” he said.
“But you can get a text message saying there is no work so you have to take a holiday. You end up using up all your holidays.”
He also said: “Security guards are scattered all over the warehouse. They are there as you go into work. They are by the toilets. There’s one by the place where we go for a cup of tea.”
He said body searches were commonplace.
“You have to use a security card and go through a turnstile to go in and out of work. There are red and green lights. If the red light flashes you have to empty your pockets and be searched.
“It’s the same when you go to the toilet. Now they’re doing spot checks and searches as well.”
GMB organiser Deanne Ferguson said: “To hear how Asos workers are suffering is sickening and has to stop.
“The people of Barnsley care and will be as disgusted to hear these reports as I was. Colleagues at Asos are genuinely scared to join a union; they have been told if they do their jobs will be at risk.”
Asos said in a statement: “As a responsible retailer we take all matters relating to people associated with or employed by our company extremely seriously.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.