Asos has partnered with the British High Commission to host an event in Mauritius that seeks to implement a common framework to combat modern slavery.
The event – organised as part of Asos’ modern slavery commitments and coinciding with ongoing discussions between the Mauritian and Bangladeshi governments on labour migration and workers’ rights – will bring together local and international stakeholders to discuss the challenges in managing labour migration and agree a common framework for improving worker protection in Mauritius and beyond.
Stakeholders in the event include executives from fashion brands manufacturing in Mauritius including Adidas, zLabels, Puma, Woolworths and Whistles, as well as lopbby groups such as the International Labour Organisation, the IndustriALL Union, the Ethical Trading Initiative and Anti-Slavery International.
Last year, Asos became the first ecommerce brand to sign a Global Framework Agreement with with IndustriALL – the world’s largest sectorial trade union organisation representing 50 million workers – to strengthen the implementation of international labour standards.
The online retail giant also released its first Modern Slavery Statement in line with UK legislation, in which it made a commitment to eradicate modern slavery from its supply chain.
Following reviews of all 11 factories in Asos’ Mauritian supply chain with labour rights organisation Verité, the country was highlighted in the statement as an area of risk with evidence of systemic labour violations, including debt bondage linked to the recruitment of migrant workers.
Speaking on today’s event, Asos sourcing director Simon Platts 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 supporting this event as part of the UK’s agenda to tackle modern slavery, which has emerged as a major foreign policy priority for Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The UK Government is committed to the eradication of all forms of forced labour and is supportive of initiatives to ensure that migrant workers working in factories and plants are not in situations of debt bondage,” British High Commissioner Keith Allan said.
Asos said that in late March, it plans to co-host an event at the House of Lords with Baroness Lola Young, the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion and Anti-Slavery International, to identify and address shared risks in the apparel sector for its supplier base.