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UK: Boohoo & PrettyLittleThing warehouse workers say it is 'impossible' to maintain social distancing & meet hourly targets amid increase in orders; Incl. company comments

"'Why are people buying boob tubes': fashion workers' anger at owners and consumers", 3 April 2020

... [A]t Pretty Little Thing’s fulfilment centre in... Sheffield... workers doing 12-hour shifts said they were processing orders for 400,000 items this week, up from 120,000 in a “normal” week... [and] it is “practically impossible” for hundreds of staff... to keep two metres apart and still meet their hourly targets of picking 80 items...

[T]he local Labour MP... has received 32 complaints from PLT warehouse workers, more than for any other company during the government lockdown. He has written to the Health and Safety Executive to ask it... to make an unannounced inspection to the site...

PLT said: “... government guidance is clear... all online retailers can... keep trading to support the economy. We are very confident in the extensive social distancing and hygiene measures that we have in place...” ... PLT and Clipper Logistics, which runs the warehouse... denied that any staff had been disciplined for failing to meet their targets... They claimed a maximum of 275 people worked in the warehouse on any one shift, though the Guardian’s sources said that in busy periods that could increase to 400...

Boo Hoo['s]... distribution centre in Burnley... is also busier than ever, according to workers. A warehouse operative said despite managers repeating distancing guidelines during morning briefings, the number of orders coming in meant workers could not adhere to them...

This was denied by Boo Hoo, who said: “.... [W]ith a maximum of around 450 working at any one time over two sites and significant automation on site, [it makes it] very easy to practise social distancing.”...

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