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ASOS Steps up Efforts to End Modern Slavery in Mauritius and Globally

ASOS is doing its part to eradicate modern slavery and shed further light on the issues at hand.

The U.K.-based fashion e-tailer joined forces with the British High Commission in Mauritius to bring together local and international reps this week to discuss ways to combat modern slavery and improve working conditions by managing labor relations in Mauritius and globally.

The discussions, which took place in Port Louis, Mauritius, are part of ASOS’ ongoing commitment to combating modern slavery. Presentations from Mauritian and Bangladeshi governments, the International Labour Organization, the IndustriALL Union, the Ethical Trading Initiative and Anti-Slavery International were part of the event. And executives from fashion brands manufacturing in Mauritius, including Adidas, zLabels, Puma, Woolworths and Whistles, were in attendance.

“We’re grateful for the support of the British High Commission, the Mauritian and Bangladeshi governments and the many other speakers and guests attending today’s event,” Simon Platts, sourcing director at ASOS said. “The hope is that by sharing experience and expertise, we can encourage efforts to prevent exploitation during recruitment, and engage governments to effectively enforce legislation to protect migrant workers. Ultimately we believe this collective approach will help to protect the rights of workers in Mauritius, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

The British High Commission is in full support of these discussions as part of the U.K.’s commitment to ending modern slavery, a top foreign policy priority for Prime Minister Theresa May.

“The U.K. government is committed to the eradication of all forms of forced labor and is supportive of initiatives to ensure that migrant workers working in factories and plants are not in situations of debt bondage,” said British High commissioner to Mauritius Keith Allan, also a speaker at the event.

ASOS’ Modern Slavery Statement and the commitments contained within are key components of ASOS’ Ethical Trade Strategy, which is designed to improve the company’s business practices to help deal with human rights impacts in its global supply chain and make workers aware of their fundamental rights.

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In collaboration with  labor rights organization Verité, Asos reviewed its 11 factories in Mauritius and found evidence of systemic labor violations, including debt bondage linked to the recruitment of migrant workers. Following those findings, Asos released its first Modern Slavery Statement in line with U.K. legislation, where it declared its commitment to eliminating modern slavery from its supply chain.

In an effort to strengthen the implementation of international labor standards, Asos last October became the first e-commerce brand to sign a global framework agreement with IndustriALL, the world’s largest sectorial trade union organization representing 50 million workers. And next month, Asos will cohost an event at the House of Lords with Baroness Lola Young, co-chair All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion and Anti-Slavery International, to identify and address shared risks in the apparel industry for its supplier base.