Belfast Telegraph

Labour leadership hopeful Smith urges ASOS warehouse inquiry

Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has called for an inquiry into staff conditions at an ASOS warehouse.

Mr Smith said he fears the leading online fashion retailer "is the new Sports Direct", in reference to that company's recent scandal over poor working practices.

The GMB union claims ASOS staff have reported facing invasive surveillance, random searches and limited toilet breaks at the company's distribution centre near Barnsley, run by XPO Logistics.

ASOS disputes the claims and has invited Mr Smith to visit the warehouse.

Mr Smith, who today won the backing of the union in his campaign to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, has written to the Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, Labour's Iain Wright, to launch an inquiry into working practices at the retailer.

In a letter to Mr Wright, he said: "Having met with the GMB, I'm appalled at reports that - among others - staff there are having to face invasive surveillance, limited access to toilet facilities and random searches during lunch breaks.

"I also understand staff are being employed on what are effectively sub-zero hour contracts, where workers face little to no notice of the hours they're expected to work. And where staff are turning up to work only to be told they've got no allocated hours.

"I know you'll agree with me that these practices have no place whatsoever in any workforce and they need rooting out. I am concerned that the company is the new Sports Direct."

A spokeswoman for ASOS said: "We were surprised to see these allegations from Owen given that it was the first we had heard from him and he's never been inside the warehouse.

"We work incredibly hard with XPO to create a positive, supportive, healthy working environment for the team in Barnsley.

"As we have now said on the record several times before - we don't do zero hours contracts, people can take toilet and water breaks whenever they want, and we pay above minimum wage."