Saturday 13 November 2021
Sewing 75 hours a week
Shine puts workers under ‘tremendous pressure’
Shein.com is the most visited fashion website in the world. Dirt-cheap goods are produced in China and worn in the USA, Europe and Australia. People working in factories has nothing to do with ethics or sustainability, as a visit to an NGO in sewing shops shows.
A Swiss NGO reports on precarious working conditions at suppliers for Chinese fast fashion retailer Shen. The employees were working excessively overtime. The public interest group Public Eye reports 75 hours a week at six locations in Guangzhou. The head office of the online retailer is also located in the northwestern coastal city of Hong Kong.
The BBC, citing the organisation, said workers were under “tremendous pressure”. Public Eye employees have reportedly visited 17 factories that supply Shein and parent company Zoetop. A total of ten workers were interviewed at six sites. At this time, all production facilities were operating on a three-shift system and exclusive to Shein. Many workers only had one day off a month.
According to the report, the workers were mostly immigrants who got paid for every piece of clothing. This is said to benefit the system. Shin agreed to examine the report. “We have a strict Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes strict health and safety guidelines and complies with local laws. If non-compliance is found, we will take immediate action,” a company spokesperson was quoted by the BBC as saying.
Excessive overtime work in Chinese factories is not uncommon. However, you are violating local labor laws, which stipulate an eight- and forty-hour workday per week. Public Eye launched an investigation into the cheap fashion giant, which works with thousands of suppliers, last year to learn more about the secretive company’s corporate structure.
Low prices attract young people
SHEIN does not disclose any financial figures. However, sales are believed to have risen sharply during the pandemic as consumers have increased their online shopping. Data provider CB Insights estimates that sales in 2020 exceeded $10 billion.
The mostly privately held company has made a name for itself all over the world over the past couple of years. Young people in particular are attracted to the very low prices. 23 million people follow the company on Instagram or Tiktok. With 160 million visitors to the platform in June alone, big competitors Zara and H&M have been bypassed.
The ultra-low prices have also called out organizations such as the Workers’ Rights Union, which has long wanted to learn more about working conditions at the company. The biggest investors in Shen, Sequoia Capital China and Tiger Global Management declined to comment on the abuse allegations to Reuters in August.
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