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Shein's employees earn less than 50 cents per hour

A Channel 4 documentary exposes conditions of Fast Fashion workers, again

Shein's employees earn less than 50 cents per hour A Channel 4 documentary exposes conditions of Fast Fashion workers, again

UPDATE 24-10-2022: In response to the clamour generated by Channel 4's investigation, Shein stated on its social channels that it has launched an investigation into two of the brand's suppliers, that it has already conducted repeated sweeps of its production centres, and that workers' salaries are double the local average. We remain confident about the outcome of the investigation.

Enquiries after enquiries report on the conditions of employees of large Fast Fashion companies, their struggle for minimum wage, job security and holidays, only to discover that the situation has not improved in the slightest. Channel 4's documentary, Untold: Inside the Shein Machine, exposes the conditions of the employees of the company founded in Nanjing in 2008: many workers have no fixed salary and are paid 0.27 yuan CNY (3 pence) per garment produced, while those few who can boast a regular contract earn a maximum of £500 per month for producing 500 garments per day. "There are no Sundays here": employees have only one day off per month, shifts verge on 18 consecutive hours and can even have their pay cut by two-thirds if they make a mistake.

Not only that, many of the employees involved in the investigation could face serious legal consequences, in addition to losing their jobs. A Shein spokesperson told City AM: 'We are extremely concerned about the allegations made by Channel 4, which violate the code of conduct agreed by every Shein employee. Any non-compliance with this code will be dealt with swiftly and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards. We have requested specific information from Channel 4 so that we can investigate'. According to Dazed this is not the first complaint against Shein's exploitation of employees, last year a report by the Swiss advocacy group Public Eye found that some employees at six sites in Guangzhou work more than 75 hours a week. Furthermore, according to the company, 83% of the 700 employees performed 'poorly' and needed 'corrective action'. A strategy that has led Shein to produce 10,000 new items per day and reach an estimated value of £100 billion in April 2022, as much as Zara and H&M combined.

But the worrying conditions of fast fashion workers are not just in Asia: in 2020 it emerged that employees in Leicester working in factories supplying Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal were being paid just £3.50 an hour. Fast fashion is also a driver of climate change, with the industry responsible for around 10% of global emissions and thousands of polyester covering the world's largest landfills, proving that if a t-shirt can be marketed for 99 cents, there is always someone who is paying the price.