Fast Retailing says boosting oversight of garment, textile suppliers

Friday, 6 March 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Uniqlo-owner Fast Retailing Co Ltd said on Wednesday it is strengthening oversight of its garment and textile suppliers, after problems with working conditions were recently found at two suppliers in China. The Japanese apparel retailer said it would start monitoring textile suppliers for compliance with its standards for working conditions. It will also increase the number of unannounced audits that it conducts at the garment-supply level. In January, Fast Retailing told two Chinese suppliers – Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co Ltd and Pacific (Pan Yu) Textiles Ltd - to improve factory working conditions after an inspection found problems including long working hours. That move came after SACOM, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, issued a report saying employees at Dongguan Tomwell and Pacific (Pan Yu) were working excessive hours in unsafe conditions, including high temperatures, poor ventilation and floors covered with sewage. Until last year, Fast Retailing had been monitoring textile suppliers that ship to the garment factories that make its clothing for environmental compliance but not for their labour practices and factory safety, the company said. Yukihiro Nitta, the Fast Retailing executive in charge of corporate social responsibility initiatives, said the company would set up a hotline for textile workers to call with complaints and increase the number of unannounced audits and off-site interviews of workers in an effort to catch problems. “We know that workers can’t always give an honest account in interviews on the factory floor,” Nitta told Reuters at a company event for media. Nitta said Fast Retailing would work with private advocacy groups like SACOM in monitoring its supply chain. By the end of March, Uniqlo will have monitoring programs for the textile suppliers that supply 30 percent of the fabric it uses. By March 2016, it expects to have monitoring for all of its textile suppliers.