Multiple fashion brands such as Nike (NKE), Boohoo (BOO.L), H&M (HM-B.ST) and North Face-owner VF (VFC) have denied allegations of forced labour in their supply chains in the Xinjiang region in China.
The brands and retailers expressed “shock” over allegations regarding the forced labour of Uyghur Muslims, as they were questioned by MPs at the Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) committee.
It has been alleged that products involving Uyghur slave labour could be sold to UK consumers.
Reports suggest that 1 million Uyghur are being held in internment camps in the northern Chinese province.
The group director of responsible sourcing at Boohoo, Andrew Reaney, told MPs at the committee that the online retailer was “shocked” by reports regarding the Uyghurs and what’s happening in the region.
Reaney said: “We wrote to all our suppliers across the supply chain to confirm that we have no manufacturing or fabric links to that particular region.
“That was done and all of our suppliers confirmed that they have no manufacturing or fabric links to that region.” He stressed that Boohoo does “not knowingly source any yarn or fabric” from the region.
MPs questioned auditing processes at the business after PwC resigned as Boohoo auditor following concerns over the working conditions in its UK supply chain.
It comes after Boohoo has been accused of paying workers in its Leicester supply chain as little as £3.50 ($4.60) an hour — far below the minimum wage of £8.72.
A review into the allegations was conducted by Alison Levitt QC in September and found “many failings” but it ultimately cleared Boohoo from allegations of deliberately allowing poor conditions and low pay for garment workers.
Other reports also alleged that the company may have relied on factories in Leicester that did not close during the first UK lockdown, which could have contributed to the second wave coronavirus outbreak in the city.
Levitt’s review recommended “improvements to Boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.”
Watch: H&M cuts ties with Chinese supplier over forced labour allegations
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Meanwhile, David Savman, head of supply chain at H&M, said the Swedish-based retailer worked with accreditation groups for its supply chain