Uniqlo is often praised for its quality products at low prices. However, a new report suggests that the company has been able to keep prices low by partnering with a producer, Pacific Textiles Limited, that skimps on safe and humane working conditions, according to Quartz.
A report filed by a group of undercover students working as an organization, called Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, cited that workers were paid one third of an average salary, and therefore, many of them volunteered to work up to 134 additional hours a month. The group also found that factories had floors covered in sewage, which raises the risk of an electrical accident, and has already caused one death. The factories also had poor ventilation, which led to scorching temperatures inside.
We reached out to Uniqlo for a statement. Fast Retailing, the company that owns Uniqlo, released a statement that reads, in part:
"The Fast Retailing Group is committed to building long-term trust with its production partners, while at the same time respecting human rights and ensuring appropriate working conditions for the employees of its production partners."
The statement went on to say that after learning of the SACOM report last year, the company conducted an independent inspection of both factories, and in fact "regrettably" found "several problems including long working hours." Not all of the issues included in the SACOM were found, according to Fast Retailing, but it is continuing with the inspection.
Furthermore, Fast Retailing says that it has asked the factory to make changes and will check on conditions in a month. If no progress is made within a month, Fast Retailing says "strict action" will be taken, "including a review of whether to engage them in any future business."