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Uniqlo Accused of Poor Factory Working Conditions

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Japanese retailer Uniqlo has recently been under fire for reportedly having poor working conditions after Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong-Kong based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving labor conditions, posted a report claiming the retailer’s factories lack occupational health and safety protection for its workers.

SACOM conducted an investigation from July 2014 to Nov. 2014 of two Uniqlo factories located in China with the support of Tokyo-based international organization, Human Rights Now and local labor organization, Labour Action China.

The organization claimed the factory workers suffer from long work hours, low wages, high risk, an unsafe working environment, and a harsh management style and punishment system. It also said the workers are unrepresented.

At the end of the statement published on the SACOM website Sunday afternoon, the organization included a list of demands for Fast Retailing Group, which owns and operates Uniqlo. Among the list of demands included, that the company facilitate the suppliers’ improvement of workplace conditions by providing adequate resources, maintain transparency to the public by disclosing the full list of suppliers where their products were manufactured and support the setup of fully worker-represented trade unions in their suppliers by direct and democratic election.

In response to these accusations, Fast Retailing released a statement saying it had first learned of SACOM’s report at the end of last year and moved quickly to conduct its own inspection of the two factories in question. Fast Retailing noted there were several problems found, including long working hours, and requested that SACOM open a dialogue with the company as soon as possible.

The company has urged the two investigated factories to resolve the issues immediately and said it will check up on their progress within one month and agreed to take strict action if progress has not been made.

“In addition, we will validate our processes for monitoring working conditions and will consider introducing the same process within the next few months at textile facilities that we do not currently monitor,” Fast Retailing noted.

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