Oppose Shein joining London’s FTSE

Rights campaigners and Fashion Council oppose Shein joining London’s stock exchange

  • Published on
    June 9, 2024
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  • Category:
    Law & Policy, Supply Chain
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Shein has long been plagued by accusations of exploitative and forced labor conditions in its supply chains. In addition, it has faced multiple lawsuits for copyright infringement. Now, the fast fashion colossus wants to add legitimacy to its brand by joining The Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) and being listed on the London Stock Exchange. However, according to a recent article in The Guardian, workers’ rights groups and the British Fashion Council (BFC) are calling on the next U.K. government to oppose this move due to a lack of transparency about its supply chain and ethical concerns.

Financial legitimacy with a huge price tag

The FTSE 100 Index is the U.K.’s best-known stock market index. It comprises the 100 most highly capitalized blue-chip companies on the London Stock Exchange. Shein joining the FTSE could be the U.K.’s biggest-ever stock market flotation. This is why Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt supports the application. Other supporters see Shein’s potential listing as a sign of hope for London after some major companies have decided to list elsewhere. But many politicians and activists see the move as coming with too high an ethical cost.

Mathias Bolton, head of commerce at UNI Global Union, which represents service industries around the world, said:

“Shein shouldn’t be rewarded with the credibility of being listed in the City (London), or anywhere else, given the lack of transparency in their supply chain and shocking reports of severe labor violations.”

Alena Ivanova, campaigns lead at Labour Behind the Label, also viewed the news “with dismay” pointing to the well-documented labor issues that continue to plague Shein. And, in addition to forced labor and labor exploitation concerns, the BFC, whose members include Burberry, Mulberry, and Victoria Beckham’s fashion label, said they felt Shein’s proposed inclusion on the FTSE was a “significant concern” to the U.K. fashion industry as a whole.

Another betrayal of people and planet

A recent investigation by Switzerland-based non-profit group Public Eye found that workers producing garments in Shein’s supply chain routinely work more than 70-hour weeks. There have also been multiple exposés alleging Uyghur forced labor in supply chain and a parade of lawsuits due to the company’s “cavalier approach to design appropriation”.

Speaking about the prospect of Shein joining the FTSE, BFC chief executive Caroline Rush said:

“… questions remain about the ethicality and sustainability of a business model and supply chain that consistently undercuts British designers and retailers,”

Rush added that if the U.K. government wanted to include Shein as a legitimate part of the British fashion community, it needed to commit to “greater clothing market regulation and due diligence to ensure a level playing field for all businesses in the sector”. With U.K. elections looming, workers’ rights campaigners are calling on the next government to oppose Shein joining the FTSE. They argue that allowing the listing to go forward would be “yet another betrayal to working people everywhere and the planet.”While Shein claims to have “a zero-tolerance policy for forced labor” ongoing overwhelming evidence lays waste to that claim.

The problems continue with Shein

Almost since its inception, Shein has been linked to supply chain issues including Uyghur forced labor, labor exploitation, and environmental damage. And with huge profits being made using their current model, Shein won’t change their business practices unless governments and consumers demand it. At Freedom United, we call forced labor and labor exploitation what it is — modern slavery. And it’s way past time for Shein to get the message that people around the world just won’t buy it!

Together, we have the power to call for change. Let’s draw attention to the issue and pressure Shein to stop hurting people and the planet just for high profits and a fast-fashion fix. Stand with us against modern slavery! Write to Shein and join the massive worldwide movement demanding the company stop its unethical practices and do better.

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