May 7, 2019
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JD Sports and Asos under fire over ‘satanic’ warehouse conditions

May 7, 2019

JD Sports and Asos have been criticised for the soaring number of ambulance call-outs for staff working at their warehouses in Rochdale and Barnsley.

The figures have reignited a national conversation about poor working conditions in fashion supply chains, with Union Unite likening the warehouses to “dark satanic mills of the 21st Century”.

According to data compiled by the Press Association, JD Sports saw 40 call-outs to its troubled Rochdale site last year, while ambulances were dispatched 45 times to Asos’ warehouse in Barnsley.

Over the past three years, a total of 117 ambulance call-outs were reported at JD Sports’ Rochedale centre and 148 at the Asos site, although the figures do not exactly reveal why the ambulances were summoned.

Matt Draper, from Unite, said: "The warehouses of some companies risk becoming the dark satanic mills of the 21st Century. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Where employers work with trade unions and treat people with respect there are fewer accidents and a better health and safety record.”

Asos and its warehouse operator XPO Logistics commented: “We are an employer that values the safety of our employees above all else. Since 2013, the accident/incident rate has declined considerably year-on-year and has remained significantly below the industry standard throughout this period."

A spokesperson for JD Sports said: “Given the scale of our operations, the number of incidents where an ambulance is called each year is very low. We have a responsibility to everybody on site, and take no risks when it comes to their safety.”

This is not the first time JD Sports has been at the centre of a warehouse controversy. In 2016 the sportswear retailer, which made profits of £340m on sales of £4.7bn last year, launched an internal investigation after an undercover show revealed that staff were allegedly paid less than the minimum wage.

Sports Direct has also faced criticism over the working conditions at its Shirebrook site in recent years, but the latest data showed its ambulance call-out rate have improved since then.

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