You naughty boy
UNIQLO tackles child labour - with parental discipline
Whilst researching Japanese nu-rave t-shirt favourites Uniqlo this week, I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I spotted this paragraph in the latest CSR report of their (aptly-named) parent company Fast Retailing:
In July 2010 regular inspections revealed that one partner factory had engaged in child labor. The relatives of the youth worked at the same plant and the minor had only been employed on a
temporary, day-to-day basis during a holiday period. However, the FR Group requires its production partners to formally verify the age of every employee, regardless of whether or not an
individual is a temporary worker. FR called on the factory in question to rigorously enforce this requirement. Due to the extremely serious nature of this infraction, FR gave the facility an E grade, requested that the factory sternly reprimand the relatives of the child in question, and reduced the factory’s volume of business."
(Read it in context on p.12)
Disclosing child labour discovered in the supply chain, good. Using 'stern reprimands' as a remediation tool? Not so good.
There are many reasons why children end up working in sweatshops, whether they've chosen to seek work there to support their family, or been coerced or forced into working by someone. The problem is incredibly complex and the solution is clearly beyond the scope of a familial telling-off.
Also, workers' rights campaigners Labour Behind the Label often speak out against companies ditching their suppliers when workers' rights violations are discovered.
Their website says they welcome comments and questions, so why not drop Uniqlo an email to ask them to rethink their child labour remediation strategy?
For further interesting reading on Uniqlo, check out Pamela Ravasio's investigation of their potentially dubious new partnership with Bangladesh's Grameen Bank.
By Bryony Moore
First posted on the bagsful blog