Hypocritical CSR Policy Harsh Exploitation on Workers Unveiling UNIQLO’s labour rights violations

Hypocritical CSR Policy Harsh Exploitation on Workers

Unveiling UNIQLO’s labour rights violations on its tenth anniversary celebration

Today (26 November 2015) is the final day of the tenth anniversary celebration of UNIQLO Hong Kong. 20 representatives from Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), Labour Action China (LAC) and other labour rights concern groups staged a protest at UNIQLO’s flagship store in Lee Theatre, Causeway Bay. They condemned UNIQLO to fool consumers with propaganda, and its negligence on various labour rights violations in its suppliers.

The groups held placards to denounced UNIQLO for allowing its suppliers to exploit workers, including suppress workers’ rights defending actions, illegal termination of worker representatives, use of hazardous chemicals during production, failed to pay workers’ statutory social insurance premiums and housing provident fund. Workers are also asked to do extremely long working hours for low wages. The groups shouted, “UNIQLO, made for all except its workers”, “shame on UNIQLO to suppress its workers”, and urged UNIQLO to rectify the above violations.

HKCTU stated that a strike was staged in Artigas factory in June 2015, whose parent company is Lever Style Inc - one of the key suppliers of UNIQLO. During the strike, workers were suppressed and the worker representatives were dismissed. Wu Weihua, one of the worker representatives was even detained for four months. The factory illegally dismissed her without paying any statutory compensation, which seriously violated the labour rights. HKCTU claimed a group of 57 workers were illegally dismissed and a lawsuit between the workers and Lever Style Inc. is undergoing to fight for justice and a reasonable compensation for workers. HKCTU considers that Fast Retailing, as a key buyer of Lever Style Inc. and the parent company of UNIQLO, should proactively intervene in this illegal dismissal and ensure Lever Style Inc. to pay reasonable compensation to the workers.

Five crimes of UNIQLO- 1.Illegal termination of worker representatives, 2. Use of hazardous chemicals during production,  3. Suppress workers’ rights defending actions, 4. Failed to pay workers’ statutory social insurance premiums and housing provident fund 5. Supplier factory workers suffered from extremely long working hours with low wages.

Meanwhile, SACOM launched the second investigative report on UNIQLO’s suppliers in mainland China to raise consumers’ awareness on the labour rights exploitations behind UNIQLO’s significantly huge profit. SACOM has investigated four of UNIQLO’s production partners since 2014 and found a number of labour rights violations. The factories concealed information of chemicals used during the production process, failed to provide workers with sufficient protective equipment and trainings on working safety, putting workers’ health in danger. During peak seasons, the overtime working hours could reach to 176 hours per month, which is far beyond the maximum requirement of 36 hours by the Chinese Labour Law. Moreover, workers were paid a fixed piece rate, which means they do not have neither overtime pay nor a basic wage that meets the minimum wage requirement of the region. SACOM also found the investigated factories have failed to pay the housing provident fund and social insurance premiums for workers in accordance to the Chinese Labour Law. The factories even provided false information and fake documents during social audits and the management abetted workers in lying to auditors. The above violations suggest that UNIQLO has failed to take its corporate social responsibility and its claim to monitor carefully on its suppliers is merely for public relations purpose and playing with words.

No representatives of UNIQLO rceived the statement. HKCTU and other labour groups therefore put the statement on the big screen at the end of the action.

The labour groups also disseminated leaflets with details of UNIQLO’s labour rights violations to consumers in the store as part of public education.

The labour groups demand UNIQLO to:

1) proactively intervene in the illegal dismissal of Artigas workers and ensure Lever Style Inc. to pay the reasonable compensation to the workers;

2) monitor its suppliers to pay wage and overtime pay in accordance with China Labour Law; and,

3) ensure its suppliers to pay workers the statutory social insurance premiums and house providing fund;

4) disclose the full list of suppliers and chemicals which are used in the production process to protect the occupational health of workers and public’s right to know.