UK BEIS Committee seeks firms' replies on forced labour

October 21, 2020 - United Kingdom

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee of the UK parliament has written to a range of businesses in sectors, including fashion, retail and information technology, to seek answers in relation to its inquiry exploring the extent to which UK businesses are exploiting forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.

The committee’s request for information to these businesses also includes an invitation to give evidence at its public hearing on November 5. Government minister Paul Scully will also offer evidence at this session. Further witness details will be announced in due course, according to an official release.

The letters include questions around supply-chain transparency and regarding evidence of compliance with labour, procurement and anti-slavery laws.

The committee has written to Adidas, Amazon, BooHoo Group, Gap, H&M Group, IKEA, Marks and Spencer, Nike, Puma, Stella McCartney, The North Face (VF Corporation), The Walt Disney Company, TikTok (ByteDance), Victoria’s Secret and Zara (Inditex).

“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,” parliament member Nusrat Ghani, lead BEIS Committee member for forced labour in UK value chains inquiry, said.

“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,” she added.