Shein: Investigation reveals appalling workers’ wages and 18-hour shifts

An investigation undertaken by Channel 4 has revealed the appalling hours and wages of Shein workers as part of an undercover operation.

The investigation looked into factories supplying the fast-fashion giant‘s clothing items, as the company outsources the majority of its labour.

It revealed that Shein employees often have to work 18 hours a day while earning an appalling wage of 3p for each garment produced.

Workers also have to work weekends and are only given one day off per month, according to the investigation.

If employees make a single mistake during the process of manufacturing items of clothing, they are fined two-thirds of their daily wage.

According to Shein, the shocking work requirements break the company’s conduct for suppliers.

Not only does Shein deny the conditions are apart of its labour policies, they are also deemed illegal by Chinese labour legislation.

In the footage obtained by Channel 4, a woman using the false name of Mei secretly filmed inside two factories she took employment with, producing the same sort of items that UK shoppers can purchase for as little as £1.49.

The footage was shared with i ahead of the release of the programme “Untold: Inside the Shein Machine,” which will be aired on All4 from Monday.

Women in one factory are allegedly filmed washing their hair during their lunch breaks, since they have so little time outside of their shifts.

Employees in the first factory shown on the programme are paid a monthly wage of 4,000 yuan (£500) to make a minimum of 500 garments a day.

In order to make the living wage, many stay late into the night to earn commission of 0.14 yuan (2p) per item.

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One of the workers revealed how they are not eligible for any leave or weekends.

Despite selling items of clothing for as little as just over a pound, Shein achieved a valuation of $100 billion in April.

Iman Amrani, who presents the documentary, says: “It’s a scramble to the bottom. If somebody cuts a little bit more off the price or the cost to make something, they are beating you… When you look at Boohoo Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, any of these websites, they’re basically all selling the same thing – my little sister will argue with me over which one has got the better quality clothes, but what they are really competing on is production and price,” programme presenter Iman Amrani told i.

“Every one of them is competing with each other, regardless of where their factories are or where their business is based.

“For the people looking at their screens in Newcastle, Scarborough, Scunthorpe or wherever, it doesn’t matter where the clothes were made, they’re just thinking: ‘That one is £12 and that one is £13.’”

Mei’s contact, a journalist working in the region, added: “I have been doing investigative stories in China for 15, 16 years – still [they] exploit workers like dogs. Basically it’s worse than years ago.”

Amrani pointed out that women bear the brunt of the conditions in every part of the chain.

“At every point of the chain, it’s women who are being affected. There are men involved as well, but it is predominantly women who are making the clothes, women whose designs are being stolen, women who are being manipulated used to advertise things, and then you’ve got the women who are buying the clothes.”

Shein said it would investigate the claims made by the programme.



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