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Workers making £148 Lululemon leggings claim they are being abused

Those employed by the factory which produces clothes for the athleisure company have said they are being both physically and verbally abused

Bangladeshi employees who are employed by Youngone Corporation, the factory which produces clothes for the athleisure wear company Lululemon, have claimed they are both verbally and physically abused at work. 

In a report published by the Guardian it was revealed that workers earn £85 a month, less than a pair of leggings made by the company which can be sold for up to £148. 

Female workers said they are called “sluts”, “whores”, and “prostitutes”, further claiming they are being made to work despite ill-health. One worker explained that she was slapped for leaving work early, after feeling unwell.

Founded in 1998 by Canadian billionaire businessman, Chip Wilson, Lululemon is popular with celebrities and influencers and is forecasted to bring in $3.8bn (£3.02bn) to $3.84bn in sales in 2019. On its website, it states it wants “to create a community hub where people could learn and discuss the physical aspects of healthy living, mindfulness and living a life of possibility”. It has also launched a partnership with the United Nations to reduce stress levels and promote the mental health of aid workers. 

But this is not the first time Lululemon’s practices have contradicted its branding. In 2013, the company was criticised for taking months to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, after the factory disaster in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,130 people.

Youngone Corporation told the Guardian it is committed to providing a working environment which is safe, fair and just, with an internal review being launched. A spokesperson for Lululemon has told Dazed “we take these allegations very seriously and we are committed to a full, independent investigation.”

Lululemon is not the first fashion label to face backlash over the treatment of its workers. In 2014 a Primark shopper discovered a "cry for help" label stitched into her £10 dress. And, a report earlier this year found ‘gender-based violence and harassment’ allegedly taking place in three factories in Lesotho, Southern Africa, whose clientele include American denim brands Levi Strauss, Calvin Klein, and Wrangler.  

With brands such as Lululemon, which promote and profit off the growing phenomenon of wellbeing, this report proves the ways in which consumers should not be blinded by billion-dollar companies and their shiny branding. It also further highlights the systemic abuse workers receive in the fashion industry, which is also happening close to home, with a report revealing last yeat that textile workers in England were being paid £3 an hour. 

Watch the trailer for Machines below, a documentary highlighting the issues discussed in this story.