[Statement] Clean Clothes from UNIQLO now! UNIQLO should improve the working conditions of the suppliers in China immediately! 

Today, we are at the UNIQLO store in Festival Walk to launch our latest investigative report on the working conditions of UNIQLO’s suppliers in China, and to protest against UNIQLO for its failure to closely monitor the suppliers closely, thus harming the labour rights of Chinese garment workers. From July to November in 2014, with the support of Tokyo-based international organization Human Rights Now (HRN) and local labour organization Labour Action China (LAC), SACOM investigated two suppliers of UNIQLO in China, namely Pacific Textiles Ltd (1382.HK) (hereafter Pacific) and Dongguan Luen Thai Garment Co. Ltd. (hereafter Luen Thai) which belongs to Luen Thai Holding Ltd.(0311.HK). Both factories lack occupational health and safety protection for workers. UNIQLO as the key buyer of these two factories has violated its commitment to corporate social responsibility: Making the world a better place! On the contrary, the workers’ lives are deeply affected by all kinds of exploitation and threats in their working environments.

Here are the key findings:
1. Long working hours and low basic wages
An iron worker from Luen Thai told us that he works 13-14 hours a day so he can iron 600-700 pieces of shirts, but the piece rate of each shirt is only 0.29 RMB . In peak season, he irons 900 pieces of shirts in one day and sometimes works on Sunday. To make ends meet, workers must work for long hours. The numbers of overtime working hours at Pacific and Luen Thai are 134 hours and 112 hours respectively. Some workers from Pacific are asked to sign the “voluntary application for overtime work”. The application states that the overtime work is 119.5 hours. Labour Law Article 41 stipulates that the work time to be extended shall not exceed 36 hours a month. Worse still, the overtime pay on the weekend is miscalculated at Pacific—only 150% of the basic wage instead of 200%. At Luen Thai, the overtime work record on Sunday and the overtime work in excess of 100 hours are recorded manually on paper instead of on the computer system –raising suspicion that factories might thus be avoiding getting checked by the social auditors for the workers’ working hours.

2. High risk and unsafe working environment
The factories have neglected work safety,
putting workers at risk: extremely high shop floor temperatures, dirty sewage flowing all over the floor, unsafe facilities, poor ventilation with dense cotton dust filling the air, irritating smells and high risk of electricity leakage are posing serious risks to workers’ health and safety. Because of the high shop floor temperatures, topless workers put the heavy pigments into the hot dyeing tent without wearing any protective gear. We also saw a number of workers falling down from the chairs while handling the knitting machines .

3. Harsh management style and punishment system
Fines are heavily used as a way to control product quality and to manage workers. At Pacific, 41 types of punishments include fines. In practice, different shop-floors have their own punishments and rules which are not specifically stipulated in the regulations but are simply written on the whiteboard on the shop floor. For example, if products were found to have dirt or flaws on them, the daily workers’ production bonus would be deducted from them –around RMB 50-100. Luen Thai uses fines as well. However, there is nothing in the Labour Contract Law stating that employers have any right to punish employees by different means such as imposing fines.

4. Unrepresented workers
General workers from these two investigated factories have no effective platform to express their concerns. At Pacific, the chairperson of the union is the director of the administrative department, a situation which violates Article 6 of the Measures for the Election of the Trade Union Chairman of an Enterprise and Article 7 of the Measures of Guangzhou Municipality on Implementing the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Trade Unions. In the case of Luen Thai, the trade union is absent, while the existing workers’ committee group and employee relations department in the factory are ineffective in facilitating workers to express their concerns.

We are deeply disappointed with the above findings. Given its current good business performance, we believe that both the factories and UNIQLO are capable of providing a decent working environment to their workers.

We demand that Fast Retailing:

1. facilitate the suppliers’ improvement of workplace conditions by providing adequate resources;

2. maintain transparency to the public by disclosing the full list of suppliers where their products were manufactured;

3.  support the setup of fully worker-represented trade unions in their suppliers by direct and democratic election;

4. comply strictly with its corporate social responsibilities policies

5.  To provide adequate training concerning the health, safety, and protection of the workers, and ensure the workers to take regular health check ups;

6. take all the necessary measures to ensure that workers’ health be protected from the harmful chemicals used in the production process and make the outlined measures and their implementation publicly available for corroboration

                       Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM)

Download the English report here: 2014 UNIQLO Investigative Report

Download the Japanese report here: ユニクロキャンペーン報告書日本語

Contact Person: Alexandra Chan (Project Officer; Tel.: +852-9404-2039)