Tokyo-based Fast Retailing is responding to claims by a Hong Kong organization that Chinese factories that supply its Uniqlo chain mistreat workers and maintain unsafe conditions. Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) investigated two factories—Pacific Textiles’ Panyu, Guangzhou facility and Luen Thai’s Dongguan facility—between July and August, returning in September for a second round. SACOM says it found long working hours, low wages, miscalculated overtime pay, excessively hot factories, bad ventilation, filthy floors, punishments and fines for mistakes and no recourse for workers with grievances.
Fast Retailing said in a statement this week that it has concluded its own investigation into the contracted factories and agrees with some of SACOM’s findings, including working hours, factory conditions, unfair punishments and (at the Dongguan factory) lack of union representation. But the company disagreed about several claims, including overtime pay (local law apparently allows for 1.5 time pay).
“Respecting human rights and ensuring appropriate working conditions for the workers of our production partners are top priorities for Fast Retailing, and in this we are completely aligned with SACOM,” said Yukihiro Nitta, Fast Retailing Group Executive Officer responsible for CSR. “Fast Retailing has urged swift action against the factories on the issues identified in the SACOM report, and we will cooperate fully with them to ensure that improvements are made. Together with third parties, including auditors and NGOs, we will check progress within one month.”
Fast Retailing owns Uniqlo, Theory, J Brand and several other brands. It has 633 Uniqlo stores across the globe (40 of them in the U.S.) and 852 in Japan.