Photo: REUTERS file
business

Uniqlo operator ties up with ILO to improve Asia worker environments

9 Comments

Fast Retailing Co said Wednesday it is partnering with the International Labor Organization to improve worker environments in Asia, in its latest push to ensure labor protection in countries where social security systems are underdeveloped.

The operator of Uniqlo casual clothing stores will provide $1.8 million in funding over a two-year period through 2021 for ILO research on the labor markets and social security systems in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, countries where the Japanese company has production bases.

Fast Retailing, also maker of the GU brand, has stepped up efforts to increase transparency through measures such as disclosing the names of Uniqlo plants since 2017. One of its Chinese factories has drawn criticism from nongovernmental organizations for long working hours.

"To realize sustainable growth in Asia, it is important to ensure decent working environments and to uphold the rights of workers around the region," said Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing.

Under the partnership, Fast Retailing and ILO will also help promote employment insurance in Indonesia, where garment workers are at high risk of their losing jobs due to rapid changes in the industry.

The country's existing social protection schemes and labor market policies are insufficient to protect displaced workers, according to Fast Retailing.

PT Jaba Garmindo, a former Uniqlo supplier factory in Indonesia, went bankrupt in April 2015, prompting international NGOs to lobby Uniqlo to financially compensate former employees of the factory.

Fast Retailing said it has no legal obligation to compensate them but said in January this year it will make efforts to facilitate re-employment of the former workers who remain unemployed.

"Through the ILO partnership, we hope to expand our impact and find solutions to issues faced by all workers in Asia -- not just those in our supply chain -- through systemic social protection measures and improved working environments across the region," Yanai said in a statement.

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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Mr. Yanai is a good person. He provides full ride scholarships to roughly 30 Japanese high school students a year to attend top level US and British universities.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Uniqlo is slave labor. A lot of my students at the University tend to quit their jobs and have difficulties in school because of working at Uniqlo. They are expected to put in many hours of overtime. Some part time and full time contracts include 45 hours of overtime. But they are expected to put in much more.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

100% agree with @Chip Star.

In my opinion admitting that the labor problem exists is already a big step forward for Japanese companies.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I went into my local Uniqlo recently and I was really stunned to see that the 10-12 cashiers (it's a big shop) have all been replaced by a high-tech RFID self-checkout system. I asked the one guy still working there what happened to all the other employees. He just gave me a nervous smile and a 'so desu neeee...'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Uniqlo is slave labor. A lot of my students at the University tend to quit their jobs and have difficulties in school because of working at Uniqlo. They are expected to put in many hours of overtime. Some part time and full time contracts include 45 hours of overtime. But they are expected to put in much more.

This is not unique to uniqlo, it's a part of Japanese culture. Dental ring a bell?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

*Dentsu

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I recently bought a chino pants for 3200¥ over there while at costo they sell levis jeans at 3500¥, made in Lesotho.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The operator of Uniqlo casual clothing stores will provide $1.8 million in funding over a two-year period through 2021 for ILO research on the labor markets and social security systems in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, countries where the Japanese company has production bases.

Most of the 1.8million dollars will vanish as expenditure for a few ILO workers engaged in the study while the slaves in the sweat shops toil on slave wages.

It is nothing but a PR move, if they are so concerned with the well being of the workers why not increase the pay of the workers instead of wasting it on people already on fat salaries.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If they're so concerned, why don't they set up their own Uniqlo factories in the Third World Instead of using shady local suppliers? That's the nub of the problem, which they don't want to address.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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