Home Editor's Pick SHEIN’s London Flotation: A ‘Badge of Shame’ for the Stock Exchange, Says Amnesty International

SHEIN’s London Flotation: A ‘Badge of Shame’ for the Stock Exchange, Says Amnesty International

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Global ultra-fast fashion giant SHEIN has reportedly filed documents with the UK’s market regulator, signalling an impending flotation on the London Stock Exchange. This move has sparked severe criticism from Amnesty International, which has highlighted the company’s questionable labour and human rights standards.

SHEIN, notorious for its low-cost production, has faced allegations that workers in its supply chain receive less than 4 US cents per garment. Additionally, there are claims that the company uses cotton harvested by forced labour.

Dominique Muller, Amnesty International’s Researcher specialising in the garment industry, reacted strongly to the news:

“It’s deeply troubling that a company with questionable labour and human rights standards and an unsustainable fast fashion business model could be set to reap hundreds of millions of pounds via a sale of shares and a listing on the London Stock Exchange. Where SHEIN goes, others will try to follow. The UK authorities and the London Stock Exchange should not facilitate SHEIN’s listing until transparent and binding safeguards regarding internationally accepted human rights standards covering its entire supply chain are agreed and applied, and any abuses identified fully remedied.”

Muller emphasised that allowing SHEIN’s flotation would be a “badge of shame” for the London Stock Exchange, the involved bankers, and prospective investors, suggesting it perpetuates a system where the rich benefit by exploiting the poor. This process, she argued, devalues workers, products, and the environment, undermining societal values.

The IFS highlighted the UK’s significant debt level, near-record high taxes, and increased public spending, all while public services are visibly struggling. Despite significant spending on debt interest and rising welfare costs, demands on the health system due to an ageing population and increased defence funding are expected to continue.

Muller also called on the new UK government to prevent a “race to the bottom” in corporate and human rights standards. She insisted that companies should be held accountable for preventing serious environmental harms and human rights abuses throughout their operations and supply chains. Furthermore, workers worldwide affected by company activities should have access to justice through UK courts.

SHEIN’s business model involves subcontracting garment manufacturing to smaller producers in China, often with little transparency or accountability regarding worker pay or conditions. The company’s garments, frequently made from synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels, contribute to environmental degradation and rapidly accumulate in landfills, polluting communities in the Global South.

While SHEIN claims to use independent auditors to assess conditions at its subcontractors, it does not disclose supplier details or remediation processes for worker abuses. The company also lacks transparency in the sourcing and traceability of raw materials used in its supply chain.

SHEIN, originally founded in China and now headquartered in Singapore, recently engaged with Amnesty International representatives, providing some details about its supplier auditing, garment recycling schemes, and its Supplier Community Empowerment Programme. However, significant concerns remain unresolved.

As SHEIN prepares for its potential London listing, the scrutiny over its labour practices and environmental impact continues to mount, with Amnesty International urging stringent safeguards and accountability measures before any flotation proceeds.

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