Shein violates both its own code of conduct and Chinese labour laws. Employees get only one day off a month, work until the early hours and barely earn, an undercover report reveals.
No weekends and high fines
Weekends do not exist for textile workers in Shein’s factories. They get only one day off a month. Working days start at 8am, but regularly last until well into the night. Those who make mistakes are paid only a third of the already meagre wages: at one factory in China’s Guangzhou province, the labourers work for the equivalent of 572 euros a month; at a second factory, they get 4 cents per garment while they are supposed to sew together at least 500 garments every day.
This was revealed in a new report by British television channel Channel 4. For ‘Inside The Shein Machine’, an undercover reporter was able to film for the first time in two factories of the Chinese clothing giant, whose cheap ultra-fast fashion made it the most downloaded retail app in the United States and is said to have a 16.8 billion euro revenue. The Chinese fashion giant could well be the largest clothing company in the world, although the company offers little transparency.
What the documentary reveals violates not only Shein’s own code of conduct for suppliers but also China’s labour laws. In China, employees are officially not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week, although exceptions are still often the rule. However, Shein responds that it acts in line with the core values of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has regular checks carried out at its factories. But those checks are not done by recognised, independent bodies, NGO Public Eye tells Dutch news agency NOS. “This kind of excess is part of ultrafast-fashion. Factories have to deal with extremely short order and delivery times, putting enormous pressure on garment workers.”