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Thursday, November 26, 2015, 20:38

Uniqlo rapped for labor abuse

By Sylvia Chang

Twenty representatives from Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and other labor concern groups staged a demonstration in front of Uniqlo's flagship store in Lee Theatre, Causeway Bay on Thursday. Chanting "Shame on Uniqlo for suppressing its workers", the protesters urged Uniqlo to stop exploiting its employees.

Demonstrators released an investigative report based on the findings of Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), who joined also the protest on Thursday. According to the report, four of Uniqlo's suppliers in the Chinese mainland have violated labor laws. The suppliers investigated included Pacific Textile Ltd (Pan Yu), Dongguan Luen Thai Garment Co., Ltd., Jintan Chenfeng Clothing Co., Ltd., and Dongguan Crystal Knitting& Garment Co., Ltd.

The report said workers employed by these suppliers were exposed to industrial waste water containing toxic chemicals without being forewarned at the time of recruitment. Workers were found to have been working without a day off for a month, for as long as 176 hours a month in peak season, and without overtime payment.

Other wrongdoings included failure to pay up the statutory Housing Provident Fund and Social Insurance premiums, illegal termination of worker representatives, unreasonable management methods, and cheating in social audit that concealed the fact they they kept workers at sweatshops.

Uniqlo is a casual wear manufacturer and retailer headquartered in Japan. Founded in 1949, the company has since expanded to 14 countries. It entered the Hong Kong market in 2005. As of September 2015, 25 branches have been set up in Hong Kong and Macao.

The campaign, protesters say, is meant to raise public awareness regarding the global fast fashion supply chain's insensitivity to the poor working conditions. Thursday is also the final day of the 10th anniversary celebration of Uniqlo Hong Kong.

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