China: Ethnic minorities detained in internment camps reportedly subject to forced labour in factories supplying to major apparel brands; Incl. co responses

In December 2018, an investigation by the Associated Press linked US sportswear brand Badger Sport to a factory inside an internment camp in Xinjiang province, China, where Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are allegedly being subject to forced labour. A UN committee has described Xinjiang province as resembling a "mass internment camp", and estimates more than 1 million Uighurs have been sent to prison or re-education camps. Following the Associated Press report, Badger Sport CEO John Anton said that the company would source sportswear elsewhere while it conducted an investigation. A Sourcing Update from Badger Sport is included below. In January 2019, Badger Sport announced it was severing the relationship with its Xinjiang supplier based on an "abundance of caution" and it would no longer source products from "this region of China."

In July 2019, an investigation by Four Corners identified several more brands as sourcing from Xinjiang. More information can be found in the article linked below. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the brands named in the investigation to respond to allegations of ethnic minorities being subject to forced labour in factories in Xinjiang. Esprit responded that it has instructed suppliers to stop sourcing yarn from the factory highlighted in the Four Corners report, following its own investigation. Adidas responded that it had also asked suppliers to suspend sourcing of yarn from the same factory following its investigation and is waiting on the results of an independent third-party investigation to verify its own findings. IKEA responded that some of its sub-suppliers are in Xinjiang, and that the cotton is sourced according to the Better Cotton Initiative. PVH, UNIQLO, H&M, Cotton On, Nike, Woolworths and Wesfarmers all said they were either investigating or had committed to investigate or review the situation. Factory X and Noni B responded and signposted to their ethical sourcing policies. All of the responses can be found in full below. Glorious Sun (Jeanswest) and Just Group did not respond.

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Adidas

Author: adidas

We can confirm that Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China does feature in adidas’ global supply chain...

...through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) adidas is supplied cotton from that region...in six years of third-party verification visits in Xinjiang, there have been no reported cases of forced labour or child labour on BCI licensed farms...

...Adidas holds no direct relationship with the spinning mills that produce the yarn... 

...Huafu...indirectly, supplies yarn to many international apparel brands. On learning of these allegations, we asked our materials suppliers to immediately suspend any sourcing of yarn from Huafu Aksu, to allow us time to investigate...

...we asked for access to audit their spinning facilities in Aksu...Our investigations found no evidence of forced labour, or of government involvement in the hiring of their workforce...Despite these findings our suspension of Huafu Aksu continues pending receipt of a third-party assessment by an independent consultancy specializing in forced labour. We are hopeful that those investigations will verify our own preliminary audit results...

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Cotton On

Author: Cotton On Group

...Before partnering with a supplier they, and any subcontracted partners, must adhere to our 14 Rules to Trade which underpins our Ethical Sourcing Program...

...Having traced and audited 100 per cent of our direct suppliers, our program continues to extend its focus to auditing subcontractors within our supply chain.

On becoming aware of the issues raised...we commenced our own investigation. Should we identify any breeches of our 14 Rules to Trade, the Cotton On Group require immediate corrective action to be taken by our suppliers.

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Esprit

Author: Esprit

...we take the allegations of forced labor in factories in Xinjiang, China, very seriously and have carried out several investigations. We have concluded that a very small amount of cotton from the Huafu factory in Aksu, Xinjiang was used in a limited number of Esprit garments. Consequently, we have instructed all suppliers to not source yarn from that factory. Esprit does not tolerate the use of forced labor in its supply chain.... 

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Factory X (Dangerfield)

Author: Factory X

...Factory X does not accept child or forced labour, and our goal is that no products delivered to Factory X are produced by child or forced labour. Please also see a quote from the Dangerfield statement from ABC News online article: “Australian fashion brand Dangerfield says it sources up to 7 per cent of its cotton from Xinjiang, but that it inspects factories and that its suppliers have signed agreements not to purchase cotton that is produced from forced labour camps.”...

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by H&M

H&M Group does not accept forced labor being used anywhere in our value chain...A part of the cotton produced in China comes from the Xinjiang region. We have for a long time worked with Better Cotton Initiative, BCI to secure a sustainable production of cotton globally...We are investigating all production facilities to get the full picture, based on the information that is shared with us.

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by IKEA

Author: IKEA

...We are not aware of any forced labour among our sub suppliers in China and under no circumstance do we accept any form of forced labour in the IKEA value chain...Today, we don’t have any direct IKEA suppliers in Xinjiang but we do have a few sub suppliers in that region and about 15% of our total need for cotton fibre originates from China, Xinjiang region. The cotton is sourced according to...Better Cotton Initiative...

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Nike

Author: Nike

Nike does not directly source products from Xinjiang. We are in the process of conducting an ongoing internal review with our suppliers to assess any connection to the region.

Our Code of Conduct and Code Leadership Standards have strict requirements prohibiting any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labor at supplier facilities, including detailed provisions for freedom of movement and guidance for the management of workers with unique vulnerabilities. 

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Noni B

Author: Noni B

Attached is Noni B Group’s ethical sourcing policy, which makes it clear that the Group will not knowingly work with any business that does not comply with the ETI base code. As far as we are aware, Noni B Group has not been included in any accurate report of companies manufacturing in Xinjiang.

[Noni B Group's ethical sourcing policy is attached]

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by PVH

Author: Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH)

We...are working with industry and civil society to investigate claims regarding the use of forced labor in Xinjiang...Per PVH policy, forced labor is considered a zero tolerance issue. At this time PVH is leveraging our networks, partners and relationships in the region and will conduct due diligence to the extent reasonably possible given the current climate in the region...

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Company response
6 August 2019

Response by Wesfarmers

Author: Wesfarmers

...Target Australia take any breaches of our Ethical Sourcing Code very seriously, including any allegations of forced labour.  Following the recent reports of alleged forced labour at the Huafu Mill in Xinjiang, we conducted internal checks and identified that one Target direct supplier is using a small amount of cotton yarn from that mill. Target is conducting a review of the situation...

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