THE BLOG

I Blew The Whistle On Boohoo's Unethical Working Conditions - And I'd Do It Again

31/01/2017 09:17 GMT | Updated 31/01/2017 11:00 GMT
Channel 4

The first morning I was nervous as hell. Even though the equipment is tiny it felt like I may as well have been trying to hide a breezeblock up my sleeve. I was convinced people could see the camera. We'd practiced, but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of secretly filming at work.

I'd contacted the Dispatches team at Channel 4 several months earlier as I had growing concerns about the conditions at the boohoo.com warehouse in Burnley where I worked. And they weren't just my concerns. I was a team leader and on a regular basis, workers on my shift were asking me for help.

I came home from work one day knowing I had to do something to make people aware of what was going on. After talking it over with my partner I put it all in an email. Thinking "they must receive countless emails from people like me", I wasn't even sure I would get a reply. But it turns out they don't. And I did.

Countless meetings and conversations later, I was wearing a hidden camera in the warehouse. Surreal doesn't even come close to describing the experience. After more than a few visits to the bathroom mirror to check everything was still as hidden as it was the last time I checked, I began to relax a little. If I appeared awkward or nervous, the workers didn't notice and continued to tell me about their concerns - only this time it was being recorded as evidence.

By far the most nerve wracking thing was getting through the security check after the shift ended, without being caught. Everyone must queue up and if you're selected at random, a security guard searches your bag and scans you with a metal detector. We had a plan for how I'd get the equipment through, but I didn't know it would work until I'd tried.

Over the next few days I caught on camera my bosses talking about some of the harsh policies at the warehouse - like docking 15 minutes pay if someone's 1 minute late - and agency workers telling me about being forced to do extra shifts and being on the receiving end of the "3-strikes and you're out" policy. Another team leader told me he'd had to sack a worker who'd said he couldn't come in as his son was in hospital.

I knew I would resign before the programme went out, but the reality of the situation didn't kick in until a couple of days after my last shift. I hate not working so the job hunt hit hard. I'm approaching my mid-40s now so finding something else is a daunting prospect.

But it was my choice and I am glad that I had the courage to do it, to not let my fear of not getting another job make me back out. It was a big decision to put my job on the line and take a financial hit, but to walk away and ignore the situation would have been wrong. I know what it's like to work under these conditions, and I've seen the pressure put on my colleagues. If you ask me if I would do the same thing again, my answer would be yes.