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Fast Retailing Highlights Workplace Improvements at Uniqlo Supplier Factories

Since Uniqlo parent company Fast Retailing was publicly lambasted for poor working conditions at its garment factories in January, the Japanese retail giant has been closely monitoring goings on and making necessary upgrades.

A Hong-Kong based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving labor conditions, called Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), published a report early this year citing Uniqlo for poor occupational protection and health for workers at its China factories.

Fast Retailing said in February following the report that it would ramp up its workplace monitoring and in a progress report released Friday, the company pointed to its follow-up on the promise, noting that it has introduced workplace monitoring at its textile suppliers’ facilities, enhanced auditing and implemented training for factory management and workers.

The company said it is monitoring its textile suppliers for efforts to improve in identified non-compliant areas, and starting in September, workplace and environmental monitoring will take place at suppliers that provide 70 percent of Uniqlo products.

Moving to completely unannounced audits for Uniqlo and GU suppliers and providing workers’ rights and health and safety training to management were two more steps Fast Retailing took to right the working conditions at its suppliers, not to mention a new affiliation with the Fair Labor Association, which focuses on ensuring workers’ rights.

In its January report, SACOM highlighted two Uniqlo supplier factories with substandard conditions and Fast Retailing outlined specific actions taken at each.

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At Tomwell Garment Co., Ltd., which manufactures garments for Uniqlo in the Guangdong Province, Fast Retailing has taken the following actions: reviewed working hours to ensure they remain within the companies regulations, changed workers’ masks from regular to dust protective following air quality checks, established a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) management program under the supervision of the Administration of Work Safety, and selected worker representatives and established a framework for regular committee meetings.

At Pacific (Pan Yu) Textiles Limited, which supplies textiles to the company’s garment factories, Fast Retailing increased the number of employees by roughly 700 and strengthened production capacity to manage working hours, introduced new rules to regulate temperatures throughout the factory, did construction on windows to improve ventilation, moved chemical storage to prevent cleaning water from flowing into the storage area, rolled out training to workers on the use of PPEs and had a government institution investigate dust, odor, noise and temperature for all production areas.