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China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

In March 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, which identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies as allegedly directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs. 

ASPI estimates at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang and assigned to factories in a range of supply chains including electronics, textiles, and automotives under a central government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid’. The report identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang since 2017.

ASPI reached out to the 83 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, they have included their relevant clarifications in their report.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Abercrombie & Fitch, adidas, Amazon, BMW, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, North Face, Puma, PVH, Samsung and UNIQLO to respond; their responses are provided. We invited Apple, Esprit, Fila and Victoria's Secret to respond; they did not. We will continue to post further company responses as we receive them. 

Further company comments can also be found in the articles linked below. 

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All components of this story

Company response
19 March 2020

Marks & Spencer's response

Author: Marks & Spencer

... M&S does not source from Youngor Textile Holdings Co. Ltd., nor the Youngor’s Xinjiang company as claimed.

We are aware of this issue in the China supply chain and the movement of Uyghur people... to provide labour in manufacturing facilitates. As part of our annual audit process we identify the demographics of all workers in our manufacturing sites and as due diligence we have also been conducting additional assessments with our suppliers to identify if there is any employment of Uyghur people. 

... We are committed to collaborating with other brands, stakeholders, supplier partners and expert organisations to responsibly address situations of potential forced labour.

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
17 March 2020

PVH's response

Author: PVH Corp

We are deeply troubled by the reports of mistreatment and coercive labor practices involving Uighur and other minorities inside and outside Xinjiang Province... While our suppliers have assured us that no violations exist within their business operations, we take seriously recent reports on the issue.

This situation is extremely complex... We continue to assess how to leverage our networks most effectively and work with our partners to uphold international labor standards given the current situation in the region... PVH is also collaborating with industry associations including American Apparel & Footwear Association... [RILA, NRF, USFIA and FDRA]... PVH and its affiliated brands are in full support of the views expressed in the Joint Statement issued by these associations.

PVH takes its role in addressing this issue seriously and will continue to work with industry partners, civil society and government on this matter. 

[The full repsonse is attached]

Read the full post here

Download the full document here

Company response
16 March 2020

adidas' response

Author: adidas

... adidas is treating the allegations detailed in the ASPI report very seriously...

Based on our investigations... we can confirm that we hold no direct contractual relationship with any of the named businesses. In spring 2019, we explicitly required our materials suppliers not to buy yarn from the Xinjiang region. That included a prohibition on sourcing yarn from Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Co. Ltd...

Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co. Ltd is neither an active nor authorized entity in our supply chain. We have engaged directly with the factory’s management team and they have issued adidas with an apology, for having falsely displayed adidas logos on their website and building. These have now been removed.

We do not produce goods in Qingdao Jifa Huajin Garment Co. Ltd. It is not an approved or authorized supplier for adidas. We have reached out to the parent company, Jifa, to understand more.

The above actions form part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that there are no supply chain linkages to XUAR, or to the export of labor from this region. Those efforts include close engagement with the Fair Labor Association... and our collaboration with industry associations in North America, who have recently issued a Statement...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
16 March 2020

Samsung's response

Author: Samsung

Samsung Electronics is a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) (link), and we conform to the RBA Code of Conduct and its implementation methods, including due diligence across the company and our suppliers. We require all of our suppliers and their sub-contractors to comply with our Suppliers Code of Conduct (link) and Migrant Worker Guidelines (link), and we regularly provide training to ensure they understand these standards.

Samsung Electronics aligns with the approach of the RBA to understand and verify issues as highlighted in the report. Therefore please consider the response from RBA (link) as Samsung Electronics public response.

Company response
15 March 2020

UNIQLO's response

Author: UNIQLO

UNIQLO production partners must commit to our strict company code of conduct, which covers human and worker rights. Additionally, we require all production partners to uphold the same standards set out in our code of conduct with any of their own upstream suppliers.

While we are aware of claims made in a recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), we do not have any business with the two factories linked to UNIQLO in the report. We can also confirm that no UNIQLO product is made in Xinjiang. In addition, through the company's factory monitoring program, which includes a hotline for workers to contact us directly, we have not learned of any of the issues raised in the report.

Company response
12 March 2020

BMW's response

Author: BMW

The creators of the "Australian Strategic Policy Institute" study were not in contact with us. We cannot comment regarding the content.

As a rule, the following applies: The BMW Group has integrated a survey for sustainability standards of direct suppliers in its allocation process and defined adherence to the standards as a critical deciding factor. (https://www.bmwgroup.com/en/responsibility/supply-chain-management.html). In our purchasing conditions, we pose various questions, including regarding human rights and working conditions. Our direct suppliers are also required to implement our policies with their own suppliers and to cascade this further down the supply chain (sub-supplier management).

Company response
11 March 2020

Inditex's response

Author: Inditex

... We take the information published in the report very seriously... [and] have taken the following actions...:

Actions taken at the Workplace level

  • We continue to conduct thorough due diligence across our supply chain in China through our internal teams and expert external partners to ensure the absence of forced labour...
  • ... Inditex does not have commercial relations with any factory located in Xinjiang.

Actions at Community level

  • Since 2017, we have been working on a Public Private Partnership with the International Labour Organization to enhance human and labour rights... including the prevention of Forced Labour. China is... involved... [in] the project [which runs] in different provinces such as Hebei, Shandong, Hubei and Anhui...

Actions at Industry Level

  • This is an industry-wide issue and we continue to engage on this issue with relevant stakeholders... to further understand the issues... to create leverage and develop the best solutions for workers...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
11 March 2020

Nike's response

Author: Nike

... While Nike does not directly source products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and does not have relationships with the Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing, Qingdao Jifa Group, or Esquel facilities in XUAR, we have been conducting ongoing diligence with our suppliers in China to identify and assess potential risks related to employment of people from XUAR.

Since last year, Taekwang’s Qingdao facility has not recruited new employees from XUAR and is currently seeking expert advice on the best and most responsible approach to conclude the employment of remaining employees from XUAR. Taekwang has confirmed that their employees from XUAR have the ability to end their contracts at any time without repercussion, and historically many have chosen to do so...

[W]e are continuing to evaluate how to best monitor our compliance standards in light of the complexity of this situation... [W]e are also drawing on expert guidance and working with brands and other stakeholders to consider all available approaches to responsibly address this situation. We have been collaborating with... Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Retail Federation and U.S. Fashion Industry Association and are supportive of the[ir] statement... on this matter.

[The full response is attached]

Read the full post here

Download the full document here

Item
10 March 2020

Joint statement: Industry associations urge US govt. to engage multi-stakeholder working group to address forced labour of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang & across China

Author: American Apparel & Footwear Association, Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association & United States Fashion Industry Association

"STATEMENT ON REPORTS OF FORCED LABOR IN XINJIANG", 10 March 2020

... We are deeply concerned by reports of forced labor and the treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority workers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and elsewhere in China. The reported situation... is unprecedented during the modern era of global supply chains...

[T]he conditions in Xinjiang and the treatment of ethnic minority workers from the region present profound challenges to the integrity of the global supply chain, including issues of transparency, access, and auditing...

Brands and retailers are drawing on expert guidance and assembling industry stakeholders to address the situation... Our members have expressed strong concerns to their suppliers...

[O]ur industry cannot solve this alone. A successful solution for all, including the workers, will require state-to-state engagement and collaborative partnerships... Therefore, we urge the U.S. government to immediately engage a multi-stakeholder working group to develop and deploy a collective approach that accurately assesses the problem, and find constructive solutions...

Read the full post here

Company non-response
8 March 2020

Apple did not respond