// BEIS writes to retailers to provide into on whether they’re making use of forced labour Uyghurs in China
// They have until Oct 23 to submit their information, and have been invited to take part in a vitural hearing on Nov 5
Several fashion retailers have been called to give evidence for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s latest inquiry exploring the forced labour of Uyghur people among UK chains.
The committee said its inquiry would investigate how UK-based retailers are making use of the forced labour of people from the Uyghur minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
The BEIS has called on several retailers – including Adidas, Boohoo Group, H&M Group, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Puma, Stella McCartney, The North Face, Victoria’s Secret and Zara – to take part in the inquiry.
They have until October 23 to submit written information, and they are also invited to take part in a public virtual hearing on November 5.
The questions they have been asked to answer in the written submissions include:
- Do any of your organisation’s value chains link directly or indirectly to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, and what steps are you taking to ensure that you have visibility of your entire value chain?
- Do you identify sourcing geographies for the delivery of services or the manufacturing of goods where there is a high risk of human rights abuse?
- What actions are you taking to prevent modern slavery and human rights abuses within your organisation and its value chains?
- What evidence can you supply of compliance with all applicable labour, procurement and anti-slavery laws?
- What are your human rights due diligence processes in respect of your workers and value chains?
- What action does your organisation take – beyond publishing a Modern Slavery Statement and including contractual obligations with suppliers – to ensure modern slavery compliance in your value chain?
BEIS Committee member Nusrat Ghani, who is heading up the inquiry, said: “The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s ‘Uyghur’s for Sale’ report names 82 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the exploitation of Uyghur workers in Xinjiang.
“The companies listed in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report span industries including the fashion, retail and information technology sectors.
“On the BEIS Committee, we are determined to ask prominent businesses operating in Britain in these sectors what they are doing to ensure their profits are not on the back of forced labour in China.
“These businesses are trusted by many British consumers and I hope they will repay this faith by coming forward to answer these questions and also take up the opportunity to give evidence to the business committee in public.
“There have been a series of accounts of products being sold in the UK which can be traced back to forced labour at camps in China.
“On the BEIS Committee, we want to get a clearer sense of the extent of this problem, how seriously businesses ask questions of their own supply and value-chains, and to also examine the steps both government and business could take to ensure that businesses and consumers in the UK do not perpetuate the forced labour of Uyghur.”