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Uniqlo Cuts China Factory Work Hours After Accusations of Poor Labor Conditions

Uniqlo parent company Fast Retailing said Wednesday that it would reduce hours at two of its China-based suppliers producing goods for the fashion basics brand following criticism about present poor working conditions.

Last month, Hong-Kong based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving labor conditions, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), published a report citing the retailer for poor occupational protection and health for factory workers.

Fast Retailing responded by inspecting the two facilities in question, uncovering several problems including long working hours, and instructed its suppliers, Tomwell Garment Co., Ltd. and Pacific (Pan Yu) Textiles Limited, to take necessary steps to improve conditions.

At Tomwell, working hours for all employees will be reduced to align with Fast Retailing’s framework. A third party will survey the facility’s air quality and labor rights training for workers will also be made available.

Employees at Pacific Textiles will see working hours reduced and holidays increased to one mandatory day per week. Fast Retailing said despite the changes, production volume is expected to remain at the same levels. The facility’s temperature level will be regulated, ventilation will improve and workers will receive training on the safety and use of protective clothing.

“We believe that respecting human rights and ensuring fair working conditions are top priorities for the entire industry, and not just Fast Retailing. In order to address these issues properly, it has become increasingly important to engage in dialogue with other companies, NGOs, international organizations and society as a whole,” Yukihiro Nitta, Fast Retailing Group executive officer responsible for CSR, said.

To further its corporate social responsibility this year, Fast Retailing outlined labor condition improvements including completing workplace monitoring with all of Uniqlo’s textile suppliers by the end of March 2016, increasing the number of unannounced audits, visits and on and off-site worker interviews and providing a worker hotline program starting next month, and by rolling out training at all major factories beginning in May 2015 to be completed in one year.