Major Apparel and Retail Trade Groups Condemn Forced Labor in Chinese Supply Chains
The Fair Labor Association released a statement on March 9 stating that it gathered credible reports confirming forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, which is home to Uyghur people. In August 2018, a United Nations human-rights panel reported that more than 1 million Uyghurs were being held in concentration camps. The camps’ prisoners were interned for keeping their Muslim religion and Uyghur culture.
A FLA statement said that forced labor in Xinjiang hurts supply chains because cotton and other raw materials are sourced from the region.
“We have directed our affiliates to review their direct and indirect sourcing relationships, identify alternative opportunities and develop time-bound plans to ensure that their sourcing is in line with the FLA’s principles. The FLA will engage with our affiliates as well as governments and other stakeholders to identify shared solutions to end these human-rights violations,” the FLA said.
On March 10, the leading American retail and manufacturing trade groups issued a strong statement condemning forced labor.
“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 and elsewhere in China. The reported situation is of a scale, scope and complexity that is unprecedented during the modern era of global supply chains,” read a statement signed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the United States Fashion Industry Association and the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America.
The trade groups’ statement noted that it was considering all available options to address the situation. It also requested partnerships with governments.
“A successful solution for all, including the workers, will require state-to-state engagement and collaborative partnerships across government, industry, labor advocates, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders. 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 that target bad actors and protect the rights of workers and the integrity of global supply chains,” it said.