A member of an influential parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom has issued a warning to the country’s business and companies that they should inquire and investigate the source of the cotton that they are purchasing and using so that the companies can avoid purchasing such cotton that is grown be by slave labour.
This call was given after the revelation of the use of such cotton in an investigative report aired by BBC.
According to the BBC report based on documents, hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities are being forced by Chinese authorities to give hard labour to produce cotton.
“UK businesses must now wake up to these disturbing realities,” said British MP Nusrat Ghani.
Ghani, who investigated the issue for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said that UK companies and businesses must “stop denying knowledge of what is taking place, examine their supply lines rigorously and make sure they are absolutely clear that they are not profiting from slave labour and abuse of the Uighurs”.
New evidence of cotton produced by forcing Chinese Uighurs to produce cotton in China is a ‘game changer’ for a number of British and global fashion brands.
30 major international clothing brands were approached by the BBC. An umber of the brands including the likes of Marks and Spencer, Next, and Tesco said they ensure that products sourced from China do not use raw cotton from Xinjiang by implementing policies and measures that they have developed to do so. On the other hand, clothing brand Burberry said that have a policy not using any cotton from China at all for their products.
And yet there were other brands that were contacted by the BBC, which included companies that do not source cotton directly from Xinjiang, who could not provide any assurance of guarantee that cotton produced by forced labour in China did not come to them through supply chains based out of other countries.
None of the companies approached by the BBC provided no comments on the issue.
That implement policies not to use cotton produced by forced labour, Ghani also said that more companies and brand should follow the examples set on this issue.
“Protecting the welfare of people and communities is fundamental to our members’ sourcing practices, and retailers are investigating their supply from China, particularly from the Xinjiang region, to ensure forced labour is not used and high standards are being upheld,” said Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.
In 2015, anti-slavery legislation was passed by the United Kingdom government under the Modern Slavery Act.
(Adapted from BBC.com)